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 19 December 2012


Source: Creative Commons
When we were children we often asked why type questions.  Why is the sky blue?  Why does grandad have a walking stick?  Why do I have to go in the car?  Answers to these questions often were followed up with yet another why question.  If the answers weren’t satisfactory to our young and enquiring minds, our response was – but why?

Why? why? why?

As we grew up and began to leave childhood and all its innocence behind, questions of why also got left behind.  By our teenage years, of course, we knew it all and there was no need to ask why anymore.  (Apologies to any teens reading this, you may wish to differ).

What would our understanding of the world be if we had kept asking why into our adult years?  More so, if we had kept asking why, would we have a markedly different world than the one which we presently inhabit?

What if we asked questions like these:
  • Why are some people poor?
  • Why do we go to war?
  • Why do we chop down trees?
  • Why do we build prisons?
Of course, there are answers to these questions.  But, what would happen, if like our innocent child, we kept asking: but why?

We (the questioner and the answerer) may eventually come to a realisation that the answers that we so glibly promote are illogical, senseless and ultimately bring us face-to-face with some questions about our humanity and earthly guardianship.

The most important why question may turn out to be:

Why do we stop asking why?

This is my final posting for this year.  I’ll be back in the middle of January.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Mathematics of Inequality

When I went to school I was taught that one of the fundamentals of arithmetic and algebra was that the two sides of an equation needed to be equal.

Subsequently I started to learn about the state of the world and came to realise that we do not apply this sense of equality to our social relations.  Consider the following table which shows just how poor our social arithmetic is.  (Dollar amounts are quoted in US dollars. One trillion = 1,000 billion).

  Number   Number  
World military spending per person per year $162   $13 Amount needed per person to meet basic human needs for everyone
Number of books published each year 800,000   1 billion Number of people who are illiterate
Number of people killed in 9/11 attacks 2,977   3,027 + up to 20,000 Number of coalition forces killed in Afghanistan War + number of civilian deaths
Percentage of World Arms trade undertaken by 5 permanent members of UN Security Council 90%   over 26 million Number of people displaced because of armed conflict
Number of jobs created in oil and gas industry per $1 million of investment 2   15 Number of jobs created in renewable energy per $1 million of investment
Number of billionaires worldwide 1,226   2.7 billion Number of people worldwide who live on less than $2/day
Combined wealth of Worlds top 1% $80 trillion   $120 trillion Total wealth of rest of the World
Number of tons of grain fed to cattle in the rich world 600 million   790 million Number of people malnourished in the world

State of the world mathematics grade: D-

Monday 10 December 2012

Am I Happier?

Source: Ira Gelb (Creative Commons)
Forty years ago I was just entering my twenties, my life ahead of me.  I was an University student and lived in a flat with others.

Forty years ago we had a telephone in the flat with a cord that stretched maybe 3 metres, confining phone conversation essentially to one room.  Now, forty years later, I have a cell phone that goes with me wherever I go.

Then, I had a car that travelled at a maximum speed of around 120 kph.  Now, I could have a car that reached that speed from stand-still in around 6 seconds.

Then, I could board a ship and travel to the other side of the world in about a week.  Now, I can fly there in less than a day.

Then, we had a television set that had three channels of programmes.  Now, we have a television with at least a dozen channels and (if we subscribed to pay TV) we could have dozens more.

Then, I went to a library to research a topic.  Now, I can search the Internet from home at any time of day or night.

Then, we bought local seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Now, we can get exotic foods from anywhere on the planet at any time of the year.

Then, I was happy.  Now, I am happy.

But, am I happier?  I doubt it.  Does our increasing consumption make us happier?  Not really.  There may even be indications that the opposite is in fact the case:
  • Suicide rates have increased by 60% over the past four decades,
  • The incidence of obesity has doubled since 1980,
  • The use of anti-depressant drugs in the Western World has more than doubled since the 1990s.
  • Americans have on-third fewer friends than they did 20 years ago.
I am posting this in December, just two weeks before Christmas.  In this most consumptive of months in the Western World our suicide rates and depression rates peak, as does the rate for domestic violence.  Something to think about.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

HOPE: Moments of inspiration in a challenging world. (Book review)

Tim Costello loves stories, he always has.  As a child he loved to listen to his mother and grandmother tell him stories.  In this delightful book Tim becomes storyteller, sharing with us around 60 stories mostly from his experience as CEO of World Vision Australia.

Tim is also unashamedly a Christian and his faith is often apparent in his stories.  So too, is his commitment to social justice.  Occasionally the stories felt a little flat, but with 60 stories being told Tim can be forgiven this.  What is never very far from the surface though is his obvious concern for a world in which the poorest on earth are given a much fairer deal.

In order to achieve that better deal Tim acknowledges that “the sharpest tool on the development rack” is the empowerment of women.  A number of his stories portray this principle and he backs his claim up with convincing arguments and data.  He notes, for example, that for every dollar earned by a woman around 90 cents will flow to the family and kids, whereas only 40 cents of every dollar earned by a man will do likewise.

Tim’s writing style is easy to read using short snippets (often only a couple of pages long), and always told with compassion, honesty and occasional pathos.

But don’t get fooled into thinking that these are all feel-good stories about how we in the West, via charities like World Vision, are helping the “deserving poor”.  Tim Costello often squarely places responsibility for poverty on Western ideology, culture and consumerism.

Take chocolate for instance.  Tim tells the story of travelling through Ghana and the Ivory Coast and seeing lots of ill-fed, undernourished children spraying dangerous chemicals to kill weeds on cocoa plantations.  Many of these children, he was told, are been displaced far from their homes.  The reason for the use of child labour and poor working conditions, Tim says, is “because the economics determine that we in the West want to eat cheap chocolate.”

Tim Costello’s faith and humanism come together overtly about two-thirds of the way through the book in a story titled “Salvation that is public and personal”.  Following the visit of a South African preacher to the university where Tim was a student he came to the realisation that “the hope of the Gospel must address the big issues of racism and power”.   And address these issues he does.

Every now and then at the end of a story I was left wanting more, almost bemoaning that the story was unfinished.   As I read further though, the more I began to realise that perhaps that is the point: the stories are never finished.  Our work, and Tim’s work, for social justice is never finished.

The book “HOPE: Moments of inspiration in a challenging world” can be purchased online from the World Vision Australia web-site.  Click on the tab in the centre of the home page: