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, 8 July 2020

Collapsing Into Catastrophic Apocalypse

Graphic: Stanley Zimny at flickr
In This Civilisation Is Finished1 Samuel Alexander (Simplicity Institute) suggests that “crisis might be our best hope for disrupting the status quo and initiating the transition to something else.”  This prognosis is timely, given that we are on the brink (if not having already surpassed) a number of climate and other environmental tipping points.

Predictions and scenario settings for the future envisage a breakdown of environmental systems that lead inevitably to social collapse.  The outcome?  Apocalypse.

Yet, Alexander and his collaborator (Rupert Read from Extinction Rebellion) remain hopeful, or at least, not pessimistic.

Perhaps in a trio of words we use to describe the coming crisis lie the grounds for their sense of non-despair.  This trio are the words: catastrophe, apocalypse, and collapse.  The ancestry of these three words contain signposts for us to follow as we enter an uncertain future.

The words catastrophe and apocalypse both come to us from Greek.  Catastrophe is made up of the word kata meaning to go down, downwards and along.  The second Greek part, strephein, means to turn.  Thus, catastrophe has a sense of “to turn downwards and along,” as if we are metaphorically entering a cave and following it down and into the earth.

The association with sudden disaster is only some 250 – 300 years old.

Apocalypse, also Greek, begins with the prefix apo, meaning away from, or off.  The main part of the word is the Greek word kalyptein, which means to cover, conceal, or hide.

Hence, apocalypse, before it came to mean “an ending of times,” had the idea of uncovering, or revealing.  Indeed, during the Middle Ages, the word apocalypse meant insight, or a vision.  The association with devastation is only less than 200 years old.

The final word in our trio of words, collapse, is of Latin origin.  The prefix col is a form of the prefix com which we recognise in words such as community, commonwealth, and compassion.  As in these words, it means with or together.  The lapse part of the word we recognise in its own right, and comes from the Latin lapsus meaning to slip, fall, slide, or sink.

So, we can re-think collapse as falling, or sliding, together.

Now, let’s put all three words together.  The phrase collapse into catastrophic apocalypse can be re-framed as something that enables a way for us to proceed, although not necessarily in a comfortable manner.  The phrase could mean:

“Turning our attention towards the dark, underground space where our soul resides, and sliding into that space together, deliberately, and in that dark space uncovering and revealing our true selves, and our natural relationship with the earth.”

This is not a comfortable journey.  It will require radical honesty.  It will require a willingness to confront our hidden demons; those aspects of our psyche (individual and collective) that we might prefer remain hidden.  It will require a reappraisal of the autonomous ego.  It will mean healing our fractured selves, and it will mean re-establishing our niche in nature (as opposed to our present separateness).

The journey will necessitate risking all we think we know.  It will necessitate casting aide old habits, old behaviours, and old belief systems. 

It will mean letting go, and stepping into the unknown, into the abyss.

Are we willing to collapse into a catastrophic apocalyptic state?

Rupert Read & Samuel Alexander, This Civilisation Is Finished: Conversations on the end of Empire – and what lies beyond, Simplicity Institute, Melbourne, 2019.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Our Sacrificial Journey

Photo: Solveig Larsen

(A short bogpiece this week)

If our species is to survival its sojourn here on this planet then we will need to make some sacrifices.  Already there are indications that a number of environmental tipping points have already been surpassed, or at least are looming.

Furthermore, our efforts to reduce the likelihood of tipping into collapse are insufficient, too little, too late, and of an untenable kind.  We are putting our faith in technology and the possibility of new scientific breakthroughs.  More rooftop solar panels, shifting to hybrid cars, or carbon capture and storage technologies, will not prevent these tipping points being exceeded.

Nothing less than a dramatic reduction in consumption (primarily in the western-styled, rich, nations) will do it. 

We can’t afford to keep adding new technology.  We must stop what we are doing.

We must sacrifice.

But, I hear the shouts, that means giving something up, it means denying myself, it means going without.  It does mean that if that is the way that sacrifice is interpreted.  Our western-styled culture tells us that this is what sacrifice means. 

What if sacrifice means something different, what if the word (and the behaviour) is interpreted differently?  What if sacrifice suggested gaining something, finding something of worth?

Let’s break the word down.  Sacrifice comes to us via Latin and even further back.  The first half of the word has a meaning of; sanctify, set apart, holy.  The second part arrives from the Latin word facere, from which we get the verb to fashion, also meaning to make, to do.

Thus, when we peer into the fires that gave us this word, sacrifice means to fashion what is sacred, to make holy, to sanctify.

When we sacrifice with this understanding we come closer to our true selves, to who we really are.  Our sacrifice takes us on a journey towards our divine, towards a deeper connection with Mother Earth.

This is the sacrificial journey we must make.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Which Way Will We Tip?

The concept of tipping points is well known.  Folklore tells us of the final straw that broke the camel’s back for example.  More recently we have the example of the one hundredth monkey.  

Malcolm Gladwell popularised the phrase in his 2000 book The Tipping Point.  Tipping points are recognised in Chaos and Complexity Theories, often characterised by a small change in initial circumstances resulting in a large outcome (otherwise known as the Butterfly Effect.)

A tipping point could be defined as that point in time, space, or consciousness that once reached and passed, what came before cannot be returned to.  It is as if a threshold has been passed.  A door from one room to another; once we have entered the other room, the door is locked and bolted behind us, never to be entered again.

There are indications that we, and our planet, are on the verge of passing through one, or more, tipping points.  And, it appears to be very much up to us humans as to which of these tipping points it will be.

Looking at the two-spouted teapot in the illustration above we can tip the teapot in either direction.  If we tip it one way then the tea will pour out all over the table, soaking the tablecloth, and spilling onto the floor, creating a mess.  If tipped the other way the tea will pour evenly into a teacup and we will enjoy our cup of tea. 

Tipped one way leads to breakdown and collapse.  Tipped the other way leads to new balance.

One way is tipped because of our materialism and continual plunder of the earth.  This way is about what we do.

The other way is dependent upon our consciousness, spiritual awareness, and recognition of our place in nature.  This way is about who we are.

There are already signs that some of the tipping points of the first way are very close, if not already tipped.   In June 2020, Will Steffen from the Australian National University warned that we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse” of civilisation because 9 of the 15 known global climate tipping points that regulate the state of the planet have been activated.[1]  Steffen’s warning was an update to a paper published in 2018 in PNAS.[2]  It is our material growth and earthly plunder that have brought us to the edge of these tipping points.

Are there any indications that we may be close to some tipping points that may tip us the other way?  Here are just a few examples that suggest we may be able to tip us towards a new balance.
  • More and more people discovering a closer connection with nature, (e.g. through permaculture, deep ecology, nature-based therapy).
  • Those from western cultures returning to an exploration of their pre-Christian spiritual foundations.
  • A spread of non-western spiritual concepts and ways to western nations.
  • People in western-styled cultures beginning to truly listen to the wisdom of indigenous cultures.
  • An exploration of consciousness at both a personal level and also as an area of scientific study.
  • Emergence of the field of eco-psychology and soul-based psychology.  (See especially the work of Bill Plotkin and others).
  • The Great Turning (also called The Work that Reconnects) that helps participants move from a place of pain and despair into a hopeful and active future.  (see especially the work of Joanna Macy)

Furthermore, around the world many hundreds of thousands of people are displaying their concern about the possibility of the climate tipping points being activated.  Led often by young people (e.g. Schools Strike for Climate, Extinction Rebellion).

When, and if, the climate activism movement truly merges with those seeking spiritual, consciousness and nature-based therapies, then we may see the teapot tip towards the teacup rather than having the tea spill everywhere.

Whatever happens, it is going to tip one way or the other.  Whichever way it does, it is up to us.

A Rider.  Please note that this blogpiece is written from within a western framework and understanding and addresses the issue from within that culture.  Indigenous and other nature-based cultures largely already understand and practice what is advocated here.

[2] Will Steffen et al., Trajectories of the Earth System, PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA), 14 August 2018, Vol. 115, no. 33

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Can We Vote For The President Too?

This post was first published four years ago, six months before the election that saw Donald Trump become the forty-fifth president of the United States.  With the US elections coming up at the end of this year, it seems timely to re-post it.

One of the basic tenets of community development is that those affected by a decision should also be involved in making that  decision.  For many people around the world one of the decisions that most affects them is the decision as to who becomes President of the USA.  Shouldn’t we have a vote in who becomes President of the most powerful, dominant nation on Earth?

Remember Henry Kissinger?  He was the Secretary of State for Presidents Nixon and Ford.  In 1999 he spoke at Trinity College in Dublin on “Globalisation and World Order.”  In that speech he made a remarkable, candid admission that
“… globalisation is really another name for the dominant role of the US.”
Think about it.  Of the ten largest foodstuffs companies in the world, 6 of them are US companies: Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mendelez, and PepsiCo.  If it’s fast food we are after, then the top 10 companies are all US companies.  I probably don’t even need to name them, their logos and advertising hoardings are in just about every town and city in the world.  Headed up by McDonalds, the list includes KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Burger King.

When we go to the movies, what do we see?  The 100 top grossing films in 2015 were all made by US companies.  Musically it is not much different.  The Big Three music companies make up over 80% of the world’s market in the recording (and our listening) sector.  And those three are based – you guessed it – in the US.

Who is it that lets us know the news?  US companies.  The four largest news corporations are all US based: Comcast, Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Time Warner.  And if we think we can bypass such giants of news and head for the Internet, then think of which companies largely control the content on that: Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Okay, we won’t buy anything, we’ll stow our money away in banks, and not be part of the globalisation/Americanisation of the world.  Unfortunately, that won’t be easy – four of the world’s ten largest banks are US owned.

It seems we can’t escape.  If we do try then the US is not likely to leave us alone.  The US had 662 military establishments in 38 countries, in all continents except Africa, around the world in 2010.  By comparison, Russia had military bases in 10 countries, all in Eastern Europe and Asia.  The UK had bases in 18 countries and France 14.

Bases are one thing, military incursions another.  The US has by far been the nation most likely to have sent troops or other military personnel to another country, often in an aggressive manner.  To list all of these would take many lines of text.  But it doesn’t take much delving into history or our memories to name many of these.  Since the end of World War Two there has not been a year pass when the US has not deployed military operatives to someone else’s lands.  We all know of the “invasions” of Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Guatemala, Panama, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Laos, Oman, Chile, Angola, El Salvador, Grenada, …. Over the past 50 years the US has been militarily involved in at least 35 nations around the globe, on all continents.  For the reader that would like to see a thorough list of these incursions (or whatever euphemism may be used) since 1890, then click here.

When there are US bombers flying overhead, naval ships in your ports, and soldiers in US uniforms in your land, it is hard to pretend that you are not affected by the decision as to who becomes President of the US.

Perhaps somewhere in the world there is a community, or maybe a few individuals untouched by US movies, fast food, the Internet.  Perhaps there is somewhere that has not been “invaded” or had a US military base established.  Even somewhere like this is not immune to the effects of US policies and practises.

No-one is immune to the effects of climate change.  Here, the US has again played the most significant part.  Carbon dioxide is a long-term gas.  Hence historic emissions are just as important, if not more so, than current emissions.  Since 1750 almost 30% of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere has come from US sources.  Even today, China, the second highest cumulative contributor, has contributed only 9%.

Around the world we are all affected in many ways, some significantly so, by the decision as to who becomes the POTUS (President Of The United States).

So, can we vote for the President too?

A Sequel

The election of Donald Trump as President of the US would further support the tenet of this post.  Consider these examples:
  • President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change Mitigation.  The US is presently the second highest emitter of COin the world, behind China, yet on a per capita basis emits 2 ¼ times as much.  Furthermore, over the past 250 years the US has emitted a whopping 29% of the world's cumulative CO2 emissions.
  • President Trump is threatening to pull funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO) - a body that seeks to improve the health of people all over the world (including the US).
  • President Trump has sent a message to men everywhere to say that the abuse of women is okay - "When you're a can do anything...grab them by the pussy.  You can do anything."
  • President Trump has described murder as okay - "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any votes."
Yes, indeed, can we vote for the President too?

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Racism's Building Stones

Structures rest upon foundations that work to stabilise, and strengthen, the entire structure.  Structural racism is no different.  Recently the world has been reacting to a very obvious case of structural racism in the killing of George Floyd.

Outpourings of grief and anger are understandable.  So too are the links that other black people are making with their own experience of racism at the hands of white people.  Black Lives Matter everywhere, and black people are right to note that racism exists everywhere.

But racism is not just a black man being held down with a knee on his throat so that he cannot breathe.  Racism is not just police brutality.  Racism is not just the numbers of deaths in custody.  Nor is racism just about black people being denied access to education, jobs, or adequate health care.  These are the stones of discrimination and violence that lie towards the top of the pyramid’s structure. (See fig)

Beneath these stones are the stones that prop up the pyramid and allow the whole structure to be built and maintained.  These stones are the stones of indifference (e.g. “it’s got nothing to do with me,” “get over it,”) minimisation and diversion (e.g. “all lives matter,” “blacks can be racist,”) and prejudice (e.g. racist jokes, tokenism.)

These stones, although they appear inconsequential, are essential to keeping the racist structure from toppling. 

And, they are stones that each of us (individual whites) can either keep in place or remove.  I have a responsibility to be aware of my comments, my jokes, and my prejudice.  I also have a responsibility to not collude with others when such comments and jokes are made.

A common objection to this metaphor is: just because I make a racist joke does not mean I condone the killing of black people.  No, it doesn’t, BUT it fails to recognise that each level of the pyramid is built upon the level below, and that the violence that black people experience is supported by a culture that tolerates individual prejudice, minimisation and indifference.

When the white policeman in Minneapolis forced his knee upon George Floyd’s neck he was supported by thousands of racist jokes, thousands of white people pointing fingers elsewhere, and many more turning their backs and not seeing the entire structure.

Albert Einstein called racism the disease of white people.  He was correct, and as white people we must do more than attend rallies and demonstrations against police brutality and other examples of the stones at the top of the pyramid.  We must break apart the stones at the bottom.