The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

How Close To Climate Crisis Are We?

How close to climate crisis are we?  Some argue, like Paul Kingsnorth, that we have already passed the tipping point and that the best we can do is to hold a wake.  Once an environmental activist, Kingsnorth now refrains from talking about “saving the planet,” focusing instead on what we can do in the face of the crisis.  Others remain firmly of the belief that things will get better, that we can retreat from the impending crisis.  Both of these perspectives suggest we are very close to climate crisis – one believing the crisis has happened, the other that it is near.

There is another way of asking, and answering the question: how close to climate crisis are we?  That is to ask it from the perspective of our individual and collective psychology.

Perhaps the first book (and research) to be published alerting the world to the limits to growth was -The Limits to Growth,1 published in 1972.  Tellingly, the first figure in that book (on p19 of more than 200 pages) was one that looked like the following:

People’s concerns lie somewhere in this time/space continuum.  For most people their concerns are close to home; for their family, friends, and perhaps local community.  Their concerns are for the near future; getting the kids to school today, or next months annual holiday.  The further out from the immediate local environment we go, the less the number of people with concerns.  Similarly, the further into the future we venture, the less the number of people concerned.

This understanding is pertinent to climate change activism.  Climate change, for many people, is not near at hand, it is screened onto our TV from elsewhere in the world.  Climate change is also seen as being off in the future.  Climate change for many is not here and now.

For those concerned about climate change, this perspective is of concern.  Climate change dialogue, activism, policies, and research is mostly situated in the upper right hand corner of the time/space continuum, as pictured below:


Hence, the key question for those concerned about climate change must be: how do we shift the debate from the upper right hand corner to the lower left hand sector, where most people are?  

I do not know the answers to that question.  However, there are some psychological understandings that may be worth looking at when attempting answers.
  • When people are faced with a crisis that they can see no way of preventing, they will tend to withdraw and stop thinking about it.
  • People tend to try to prevent present suffering without regard to long-term consequences.
  • People are often more concerned about something concrete, rather than abstract.
  • People will tend towards the social norm.  People are influenced by the behaviour of those close to them.
  • When faced with bad news, or something scary (e.g. climate crisis) there is a tendency towards the classic fight or flight.  Thus, faced with activism, people will either turn away or will oppose vigorously.
What does all this suggest?

Those concerned with climate crisis need to think about:
  • how to work with established neighbourhoods, communities, and networks,
  • speak to local issues and local concerns,
  • work towards an empathic approach to those in opposition (they may be “fighting” from fear),
  • bring the possibilities of change into the here and now – focus less on UN agreements and global summits.  Make the concerns “real,” and not far off in other times and other places.
Well, I said I didn’t have the answers.  Perhaps I have stimulated some questions though.

Notes:

1. Meadows, Meadows, Randers, Behrens III, Limits to Growth, Universe Books, New York, 1972.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

6 Male Archetypes To Reclaim

Most cultures have used story, metaphor, myth, and archetypes to understand and explain who we are and how we relate to one another and the world.  Western culture is no different.

Throughout western history there have been many such stories: the Celtic myths, the Greek heroic stories, the “fairy tales” of Hans Christian Andersen, or the plays of Shakespeare.  With the birth of psychology in the early 20th century attention was focused on how these stories and archetypes play out in our psychological make-up.  One of the first to explore archetypes from a psychological perspective was Carl Jung.  A disciple of Jung’s, James Hillman, in the 1970s, initiated the movement known as archetypal psychology.  Many others since then, have expanded and refined the ideas contained in that movement.

Out of this has come the notions of male and female archetypes.  In some circles, these are referred to as the sacred male/female archetypes.  As a male, I do not intend discussing the female archetypes, and will concentrate on the male archetypes.

6 Sacred Male Archetypes

Depending on who, or what, you read, you may find reference to anywhere between 4 to 12 sacred male archetypes.  Here, I will discuss briefly 6 key ones: God, King, Priest (Shaman), Warrior, Lover, Sage.

God.  This is the archetype of transcendence, the man seeking for the highest expression of who he is.  The God expresses unconditional love and is at one with all there is.

King.  The King is the benevolent nurturer and supporter of those around him.  He combines strength with wisdom and is the material agent of the God archetype.

Priest (Shaman).  The Priest holds knowledge of the unknown and bears witness to that knowledge.  He connects the material and spiritual worlds.

Warrior.  This is the archetypal protector, in service to humanity and the highest good of all, including those who are vulnerable.  He undertakes this service with courage, even if it may mean at a personal cost.  The Warrior is a collaborative player.

Lover.  The Lover is the sensual aspect; passionate, creative, playful, and vivacious.  The Lover seeks to bond and unite, and looks for beauty.  The Lover enjoys movement of the body, in sex, yoga, dance, or other celebrations of the body.  The Lover is comfortable with “being,” rather than “performing.”

Sage.  Picture a grey-bearded man sitting cross-legged with a serene look on his face and you’ll get the idea of the Sage.  He is observant and uses wisdom to guide “right action.”  He supports the wisdom of others.  He is grounded and earth-centred (you could say Gaia-centred). 

6 Grotesque Masks

If there are 6 sacred male archetypes, then you may have, as I did, noticed something puzzling:  Where are they in today's world?  A very good question.  They’re there, often hidden behind 6 grotesque masks that are distortions of the 6 sacred male archetypes.

Instead of the God, we have the Devil.  Instead of unconditional love we see hatred and intolerance.

Instead of the King, we have the Dictator.  Instead of benevolence we see meanness and animosity.

Instead of the Priest/Shaman, we get the Satanist.  Instead of connecting the material with the spiritual, the Satanist is bent on disconnecting us.

Instead of the Warrior, we find the Conqueror t work in the world.  Instead of service to the highest good of all, we see self-serving Conquerors, who, far from protecting, are murdering and putting at risk thousands, even millions, of people.

Instead of the Lover, we have the Rapist.  Far from being creative and playful, the Rapist exploits others, including the earth,  Instead of looking for beauty, the Rapist is intent upon destroying it.

Instead of the Sage,  we get the Smartass, or Know-It-All.  Instead of using wisdom to guide “right action,” the Smartass thinks they know-it-all and can use this knowledge in the pursuit of actions that may destroy us.


Men – let us rip off the 6 grotesque masks and reveal the sacred male archetypes that hide behind.

There are men all over the world who are re-discovering the 6 sacred male archetypes.  Let us continue to do so.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

If We Can Imagine The Future...

I do not know how the minds of other creatures on this planet work, I’m not a neuro-biologist.  I do know that we humans have the quite remarkable capacity to do two things with our minds.  We can remember the past, and we can imagine the future.

Not only is this remarkable, it is also incredibly useful.  By remembering the past we can learn, we can adapt, we can do things differently than we did in the past. 

If we can imagine the future, then we can see our next step. 

What is this future we can imagine?  Some humans will envision a dystopian, apocalyptic, nightmarish future in which the world is a bleak, nasty and brutal one.  Not me, and I guess, not many of those who are working in community development or social justice fields.  The future we imagine is a rosy, utopian one.  Most of us will no doubt be imagining a world of peace and harmony.  We project a world in which our friends, family and community are living happily, and where our children can play safely.  In this future society everyone has access to education, health, shelter, food, and ample leisure time to pursue their dreams.  It is a world of tolerance, diversity, compassion and forgiveness.

Yes, I’m sure most of us have dreamt of this future world.  We may have even participated in visioning exercises designed to get us to think of what this world will look and feel like.

There is a third aspect that is remarkable about our minds.  Not only can we remember and imagine, we can also centre and ground ourselves in the present moment.  Moment by moment we take step by step (literally and figuratively).

If we can imagine the future then we can see that next step, we can feel that next moment.

When we fully realise the power of this third aspect of our minds then we truly can change the world.  And isn’t that what we dream of – changing the world?

Taking the next step is an incredibly simple task:  we act, here and now.  We co-act, and co-create, with whomever we are with and with whatever is existing right now.  We create the next step.  Our next step does not happen by chance, we consciously take it.  We step towards our future.

If we can imagine the future then our next step becomes our future.  In taking that step we act peacefully and in harmony.  Into that step we take with us tolerance, diversity, compassion and forgiveness.

Our future is our next step, our next step is our future.

The paradox of such a state of mind and being is that we no longer need to imagine what the future will look and feel like.  Our future is already here and now. 


This all sounds so simple that it is almost laughable.  Yet, wait – think about it.  Why wait for our imagined rosy, utopian, future?  Why not act our future now?  We can do it.  All we need is the conscious intent.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Young Person's Take on Plastic Pollution (Guest Blog)

Billie Denman
I am honoured to be posting this blog today.  The writer of this speech was 12 years old when she wrote it.  Billie Denman is the daughter of a friend of mine and lives in Sawtell (NSW, Australia).  The speech was written, and read, as part of a school public speaking project.  Billie’s teacher graded this speech 30/30 and told Billie’s mother “I have never given a perfect mark before.”  This grade serves to underscore the passion that Billie brings to environmental concerns.  Following on from last week’s blog, this speech is another example of how inspiring young people are, and that we adults need to stop and listen, or in this case, read.  Enjoy it, and as Billie says, take action.

Plastic Pollution

“They never breakdown, they break up into smaller toxic bits of themselves, that spreads into our oceans, our land, our wildlife, and into the air that we breathe.  Plastic bags contribute to climate change and are polluting this planet severely.

Statistics show that instead of being recycled, plastic bags are thrown in the rubbish because the cost of recycling them outweighs their value.  The Pacific Ocean holds 6 times more plastic than plankton.  Imagine how many whale sharks mistake plastic for plankton.  The great Pacific garbage patch is twice the size of Texas and the plastic in it outnumbers sea-life 6 to 1.

Plastic bags are made from petroleum, gas, and other harmful chemicals.  12 million barrels of oil are used in the production of plastic bags in the United States alone.  The average time a plastic bag is used is 12 minutes.  To go to the effort of producing plastic bags from a fossil fuel just to throw away after 12 minutes is outrageous.

Plastic bags cause death to marine animals.  For example, in 2008 a Sperm Whale was found washed up dead – more than 22 kilograms of plastic was found in it’s stomach.  Land animals suffer from the pollution of plastic as well.  Humans breathe in the toxic fumes caused by the production of plastic bags too.

160,000 plastic bags are used worldwide every second.  What good is it that doing to the earth?  Ireland has a tax on plastic bags – that tax has decreased the use of plastic bags by 90%.  Other cities, states, and countries around the world have done so too.  It’s time for Australia to become a better country and ban plastic bags.

What you can do is encourage others to use reusable bags; and why not make a petition for the Council or Government to ban or put a tax on plastic bags.

I use reusable bags and it feels good to know that you’re doing the environment a favour.  The benefits of using reusable bags are that they come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, and patterns which makes shopping fun.  You can make your own and get them made for you.  They carry much more groceries than plastic bags.  Reusable bags are fantastically priced at 99 cents to $3.

You may think that you won’t make any impact on this issue, but using one reusable bag means you save 700 plastic bags in one year or 22,000 over a lifetime.  As an individual you need to use reusable bags.

Do the earth a favour: pick reusable bags on your next trip tot he grocery store."


Thank you Billie.  She outlines the issue well and ends on positive calls to action.  Do the earth a favour and listen to her and other young people like her.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Don't Blame It On The Children

Malala Yousafzai (left) and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.
“Don’t blame it on the children,” Sammy Davis Jr sang in 1967.  His refrain could have been sung today, or it could have been sung two centuries ago, or even two millennia ago.  The older generation have oft complained about “the youth of today.”  Plato and Seneca, living in the 5th century BC both complained that the young of their time had “bad manners.”

In the 11th century Peter the Hermit regaled against the young:
“The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no respect for their parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us foolishness in them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour, and dress.”
Doesn’t that sound familiar – yet it was said one thousand years ago.

The sad aspect of this unfair complaint is that young people are dismissed and not listened to.  Yet, young people, all over the world, are inspiring us with their dreams and their desire for a more just, fairer world.

Two Well Known Young People

Most of us by now will have heard of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban at just 15 years of age, because she spoke out about the injustice of girls not receiving an education.  Miraculously, Malala survived and went on to become a global spokesperson for the rights of girls and women everywhere to receive an education.  In 2014 she was nominated, for the second time, for the Nobel Peace Prize, this time winning it – becoming the youngest person to ever receive that award.

In April this year (2017) Malala was appointed as a U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote girls education. The appointment is the highest honour given by the United Nations for an initial period of two years.  Recently Malala announced that she has been accepted by Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics.

Perhaps also, the name Xiuhtezcatl Martinez may be known.  Xiuhtezcatl is an indigenous environmental activist who has been speaking about environmental matters since he was six years old.  Now aged 17, Xiuhtezcatl has spoken at the Rio UN Summit as well as the UN General Assembly,  He is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a world-wide movement of young people dedicated to growing a resilient leadership co-creating a future they know is possible.

Many Many More

There an many many more young people the world over who defy the myth that young people think of nothing but themselves.  Here are just a few of them:

At just 11 years old, in 2004, Kendall Ciesemier, founded Kids Caring 4 Kids, an organisation of young people in the US who raise money for clean water, healthcare, and education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Valens Ntamushobora is a young Rwandan man who founded LUSA (Let Us Stay Alive) to help young women who are mothers, not in school, or living on the streets.  Now with over 300 member cooperatives, LUSA provides access to land, seeds and future for young women.

NETwork Against Malaria was founded by Madelyn McGlynn when still a teenager,  It’s purpose is to supply bed nets in Uganda to help stop the spread of malaria.  With over 35,000 volunteers, the organisation has provided around 12,000 nets, potentially saving the lives of 35,000 people.

When the Gulf oil sill occurred in 2010, 11 year old Olivia Bouler wept for the plight of the birds of the gulf.  By using her paintings, Olivia raised $200,000 towards Gulf recovery within a year.  Her book, Olivia’s Birds, a collection of her paintings, helps to raise funds for ongoing recovery.

Kyle Weiss is one of the founders of FUNDaFIELD, an organisation that builds soccer fields in Africa in places where young people.  In 2006, at the Soccer World Cup, Kyle met soccer fans from Africa and discovered how the game helped to break down barriers.  The following year, he and his brother set up FUNDaFIELD.  He is fond of quoting Nelson Mandela, especially “sport has the power to change the world.”

Let’s Listen


Young people are inspiring, and they are challenging those of us in the older generations to listen.  Instead of thinking that young people have no respect for their parents or old age, let us, their parents and those of older age, find some respect for young people.  They are worth listening to.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Survival Shelter Simulation Game

With all of the rhetoric coming from both sides of the Pacific (ironically – peaceful) Ocean at the moment (August 2017) I was reminded of a decision-making game.  This simulation game explores co-operative decision-making and what role our individual values have in that.

Materials Needed

All that is needed is pencil/pen and paper for each person.

Explanation

Participants are told that a nuclear attack is imminent and that everyone will be sharing a survival shelter.  The shelter is equipped with basic requirements for physical survival and health.

Even though it will be cramped it is anticipated that everyone will be able to bring 10 items with them.  Spend 5 minutes coming up with a list of these 10 items – for the purposes of the game, ignore the size and weight of items.

Once participants have their list of 10 items, tell them that there may be a need to prioritise what can be brought into the shelter, so they should spend another 5 minutes listing their items in order of priority from 1-10.  All this is to be done individually.

Then, new information comes to hand.  It is now apparent that time and space will not allow everyone to bring their 10 items into the shelter.  The group as a whole must now decide on priorities, although the exact number of items is still uncertain.  However, it can be assumed to be between 5 and 10 items in total.  The whole group must now draw up a prioritised list of up to 10 items, taking into account each items value to the individual and value to the group.  Voting is not permitted, decisions must be reached by some other method.   Allow up to 15 or 20 minutes for this.

Debrief

Once the group has come up with its list of 10 items in prioritised form, the following questions can be posed for discussion and reflection:
  • On what basis were decisions made?
  • How seriously were individual priority lists taken?
  • Were the items finally chosen done so more for their importance to certain members of the group, or because they were of value to the group as a whole?
  • How difficult was it to decide?
  • Did everyone have an opportunity to plead for items on their own list?
  • Did people listen to what others had to say?
  • Were everyone’s needs considered?
  • Did anyone think the final decision was unfair?
  • How did people feel about the decision-making method used?
  • How could the decision-making method be improved?
  • How do you think the group would function if this was “real” rather than a simulation?

I have used this, and similar, games many times, and am always amazed at the depth of discussion in the debrief.  Have fun with it.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Paddling Towards Social Change

Those of us working in community development, social justice, or environmental work often have a vision that we strive towards.  We have goals, objectives, outcomes that we wish to achieve.  It is a wonderful vision of the future.  Let’s not get attached to it though.

When we become attached to our goals, objectives, and outcomes we miss the opportunities that exist in the present moment.  We can also become critical and judgemental of those who do not share our vision.  Furthermore, when our goals seem to get no closer we can become despondent.  We then beat ourselves up and tell ourselves we have to work harder, become more committed.  If we do that for too long we may eventually find ourselves in the classic social change activists nightmare – burn out. We have burnt ourselves out.  We question not only our goals, but our selves as well.  We ask “what is the point?”

What has happened?  What became of our idealism?  Where are our “dreams of youth”? 

The problem is often one of attachment.  We can envision the future and then we attach our purpose and our self-identity to achieving that vision.  That is a trap.

To counter-act this trap we need to discover non-attachment.  Before proceeding, let me be clear that non-attachment is not the same thing as detachment.  Detachment is a non-feeling, dispassionate, somewhat heartless, non-caring state.  Detachment is often a closing in, a removal from the world and from feeling.  Non-attachment, however, is spacious and opens up to possibilities.  Non-attachment remains passionate, yet without imposing expectations on oneself or upon the outcome.  Non-attachment says, “wow, isn’t that a marvellous vision, let’s see what happens if we take a step towards it, and if the vision changes then I’ll go with that.”

When we approach our visions and goals with non-attachment we find ourselves opening up to all sorts of possibilities and opportunities.  We notice that there are many people with creative ideas that we have never thought of before.  Using a metaphor of a kayaker may help to explain this concept.

Kayaking Down River

When I was younger I participated a few times in an iconic multi-sport race in New Zealand called the “Coast-to-Coast.”  This race included a 67km kayak section through a gorge with rapids, whirlpools, and eddies along the way.  When I got in my kayak at the start of this leg my goal was to get to the end, 67km away, in the safest and quickest way possible.

If I had been attached to the goal (in this case, a bridge across the river 67km away) then I quite possibly may never have got there.  I had to focus on the here and the now.  I had to concentrate on my paddling technique and my body posture.  I had to watch out for rocks, rapids, eddies.  I had to keep my kayak in the flow of the river.  I also needed to be aware of other kayakers around me, making sure that I gave them space and that my paddling was not disrupted.  Coming to rapids I had to concentrate on my technique even more so, perhaps even upping the tempo to keep me in the flow and not get dashed against the rocks or turned upside down.

With non-attachment to the end goal I was able to give my attention to what was happening right now.  I was then able to proceed towards my goal.

Possibilities and Opportunities

The world is full possibilities and opportunities.  If we become too attached to our goals then we can miss these.  We need to learn to hold our visions, our goals, our objectives with a lightness that allows us to let them go if we find more useful or healthy opportunities.

When we do that we will discover that what we truly want is right here, right now.  Our vision for the future exists right now, it exists with whomsoever we are relating with now, it exists in our present time relationships.  It even exists, right now, with those whom we thought we were in conflict with. 


When we hold our goals and objectives lightly, we also lighten, we become more at ease with ourselves.  And, when we do that, we find that we are less antagonistic towards others, we are more willing to forgive, we are open to learning from each and every person that we meet.