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.

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.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

We Doth Protest Too Much

Queen Gertrude
Sometime around 1600 William Shakespeare wrote his famous play, Hamlet.  In that play, Hamlets mother, Queen Gertrude, drolly answers Hamlet with the line“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  The word protest may have undergone some changes since Hamlet’s day, however, we can apply the sentiment of protesting too much in todays world.

What do I mean by that?  Protest too  much?  Surely, one could say, there is not enough protestation in the world.  Just look at the world: rampant injustice, rising temperatures leading to climate change, war and terrorism continuing unabated, famine in a world of plenty …. This list goes on. 

Protesting is a form of resisting, and in that resistance may be our undoing.  Carl Gustav Jung is said to have formulated the statement, “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  Now often abbreviated to just “what you resist, persists,” Jung recognised that what we think about is played out in our reality, even if we are thinking that we don’t want something.  We all know this apparent conundrum.  Try to not think of an orange.  Can we do it?  Can we not think of an orange?  Difficult isn’t it?

In our abbreviation of the Jungian phrase we have forgotten the second part of the phrase – but will grow in size.  Maybe, just maybe, all the issues and concerns of the world, are growing in intensity and danger, because of our collective resistance to them, just as Jung suggests. 

Since Jung there has been a mushrooming of research into the brain and mind.  Modern neuroscience arose in the second half of the 20th century and has contributed immensely to our understanding of the brain, mind, and consciousness over the past 50 or 60 years.  We now know, for example, that there is a strong correlation between what the mind tells us and what or where our body follows.  A tightrope walker was once asked what made him so good.  He replied that he kept his eyes fixed on where he was going and not looking down.  “Where your head goes, that is where your body is going too,” he answered.

Some Questions?

This psychology, whereby what we resist, persists, and what we don’t want tends only to focus our attention upon it, thus creating it, raises some serious questions for social activists.  Here are just a few:
  • By resisting politicians and governments are we only prolonging the myth of democracy?
  • By resisting big business are we only entrenching consumerism and exploitation further?
  • By protesting against war are we only ensuring that we will continue to attempt to resolve international conflicts by violent means?
  • By putting up barriers against refugees are we only ensuring that their plight will deepen and intensify?
  • By proclaiming that we don’t want what we have had in the past, are we only more likely to create the same past in our present and future?
I don’t know the answers to these questions.  What I do know, however, is that social change movements must begin to incorporate many of the truly revolutionary findings coming out of neuroscience, neuro-plasticity, and the spiritual understandings of laws of attraction and how we collectively co-create our universe.

Another Model

One alternative to re-focus and re-frame our thinking is that of Buckminster Fuller who said1
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Fuller is one of the most influential futurologists, systems thinkers, and inventors the world has ever seen.  Ever dismissive of politicians and entrenched authority, he sought a more expansive understanding of who we are and where we are going.  He is known as the inventor of the geodesic dome and also devised a game he called The World Game which would:
"Make the world work,
for 100% of humanity,
in the shortest possible time,
through spontaneous cooperation,
without ecological offense
or the disadvantage of anyone."
Imagine what could happen if we stopped putting our energies into what we don’t want, and directed our energies towards what we do want.  Instead of railing against the system and out-dated authorities; what if we began to construct new paradigms, new belief systems, new ways of being together.

Perhaps it is to our benefit to withdraw from protesting and resisting, and to put our energies into building a new model, through spontaneous cooperation.  A model that could work for 100% of humanity. 

Note:

1. Quoted in Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization : Humanity's Next Great Adventure, Harmony Books, New York (1999).