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.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Will the Real Terrorists Please Stand Up

One of the grand themes of our age is terrorism.  That, along with climate change and social inequality are perhaps the three defining issues of the early part of the 21st Century. 

Terrorism is, of course, an highly loaded term, used by various groups in very different ways.  For those from one culture or society a group may be a terrorist organisation; whereas to another culture or society that same group may be freedom fighters. 

Peter Ustinov (1921-2004, the great English actor who won numerous awards, as well as serving as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and as the President of the World Federalist Movement), summed up this divergent thinking thus:
“Terrorism is the war of the poor.  War is the terrorism of the rich.”
Terrorism is the threat of violence that is designed to engender fear, anxiety, and/or intimidation in another person or community.  It’s linguistic roots date back at least as far as the Reign of Terror perpetrated by the French revolutionary government in 1793-94.  Thus, originally, the term was associated with state terrorism.  Only more latterly has it become associated (at least in the west) with non-state organisations.

Terrorism has been perpetrated by all shades of political opinion, from Stalin’s communist Russia to Franco’s fascist Spain, from Allende’s CIA-backed Chile to Idi Amin’s ethnic cleansing in Uganda.

All of that changed in 2001 however, and our political leaders decided that it was time to act and declared a “War on Terror.”  (The irony of the term seems to have escaped many of them).  Trying to discover who, if anyone, is winning that war, is an extremely difficult task.  But, we in the west have thrown truckloads of money into the war.  “Time” magazine estimated that the US has spent over $5 trillion since 2001.  The UK is spending around £3.5 billion per year and Australia around $4 billion per year.  That’s a lot of money, but are we removing terrorism.

If the purpose of terrorism is to strike terror into our hearts and undermine our sense of security and way of life, then it may be more appropriate to look closer to home.  Of all the homicides in western nations the proportion that are family or domestically related ranges from around 20% through to 40%.

Hence, the bedrooms and living rooms of our societies may be the real sites of terror, all the more so for women.  Around 2/3 to 3/4 of all domestic assaults are by men on women.  What is more is that the number of deaths related to domestic abuse is currently running at around ten times the rate of deaths from traditionally labelled “terrorist” acts.

How much are we putting into counteracting this family/domestic terrorism?   In Australia, about 1% of that spent on the “war on terror” and other countries about the same.  What is of further concern is that in the UK and Australia at least, the amount of funding to prevention of domestic violence is being cut.

Let’s look at another close-to-home example: incarceration rates of indigenous or black people versus those of white skin.  If you are black in the US or UK, you are around 6 or 7 times more likely to be jailed than if you are a white person.  Maori people in New Zealand are eight times more likely than their Pakeha (white people) compatriots to be imprisoned.  In Australia, the rate is significantly higher, with Aboriginal people being around 14 or 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a white person.

The question then has to be: where are the real terrorists?  Being a woman means that you have a 20% - 30% chance of being terrorised by a male partner or ex-partner. Being an indigenous or black person means you are much more likely to be threatened with incarceration.

Yet, as the funding levels show, as a society we are more likely to spend money on a “war on terror” than to look at the terror we are creating and perpetuating in our own homes and communities.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Heads in Sand

Climate change activists.  Coffs Harbour
15 February 2015
Satire has long been a tool of political and social protest.  It is also an art form, deriving from the Latin word satura – literally, a full dish.  For the Romans it came to mean a “literary dish” in which the foibles and vices of opponents were expounded.

Today it still retains a literary aspect; it has also come to be a means by which human behaviours that are considered stupid or fallacious can be exposed in humorous and public ways.  Often it will point out the absurdity of those human behaviours and in doing so, provoke recognition in those observing.

In recent months a number of climate change activists have placed their heads in the sand to mock the denial or scepticism of many of the world’s leaders and others when it comes to climate change.  The action points out how a number of these leaders are at odds not only with the science, but often with public opinion.

Politicians are often heard with their heads in the sand.  The Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbot, once exclaimed that the science behind climate change was “absolute crap.”  He has since gone on to verbally, at least, make amends for that comment.  Many though, consider that his governments policies and actions on climate change remain firmly in the “head in sand” camp.  He’s not the only one though; consider these statements:
  • “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.” – Mitt Romney, ex US Presidential candidate.
  • “These global warming studies [are] a bunch of snake oil science” – Sarah Palin, influential US politician and possible Presidential nominee.
  • “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it” – US Senator, James Inhofe.
  • “Facts have been disputed; reports have been discredited; and communities have been divided over the arguments, assumptions, conclusions, and indeed, the very existence of human-induced climate change.” – Bob Baldwin, Australian Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of the Environment.
And it is not just politicians and their advisers that have their heads in the sand.  There are business leaders, media moguls, musicians, novelists and even a noted botanist.
  • “Record low temperatures and massive amounts of snow. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING?” – Recent tweet by Donald Trump.
  • In terms of the world's temperature going up, the worst, the most alarmist things have said ... 3°C in 100 years. At the very most one of those will come from man-made, be man-made” – Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp.
  • “Global warming is a fraud.” – Ted Nugent, musician.
  • (Environmental organisations are) “fomenting false fears in order to promote agendas and raise money.” – Michael Crichton, author of “Jurassic Park.”
  • “Global warming — at least the modern nightmare vision — is a myth” – David Bellamy, noted botanist.
These statements not only deny climate change, but show a wilful disregard and ignorance of the science.  Statements such as these have been debunked many times, yet they are still made.  It is little wonder that our leaders and public figures come in for ridicule through the use of public satire and mockery.

Indeed, cynically, one could be inclined to suggest that it is just as well that desertification is increasing because of (and also contributing to) climate change.  Without so much sand, where will all these deniers place their heads?

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Coming Back to Life: A Review

She’s at it again.  Joanna Macy is again asking us to wake up, open our eyes, take a look around and engage with the pain and joy of life.  She’s been doing it since at least 1983 when her first book, Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age1, was published.  This is her ninth book since then.  Here she teams up with psychologist, systems thinker and deep ecologist Molly Brown.  Together, they deal with how we can transform from an Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Society.

Macy has spent a lot of her life (she is now in her eighties) helping groups of people all over the world to understand their fears, their grief and their despair around social and environmental terrors.  Her methods are those that allow individuals and groups to tap into their head, heart and guts.  You don’t attend a Joanna Macy workshop to sit and listen.  You attend to participate, to be actively engaged in your own discovery and learning.

That is what is presented in Coming Back to Life2; a manual of dozens of exercises that enable people to move through the four stages of what Macy terms “the work that reconnects”: Gratitude, Honouring our pain, Seeing with new eyes, Going forth.

Macy suggests that there are three principal ways (“rivers” are her metaphor) by which we can awaken and engage.  Whether we do so from the river of personal grief, the river of new scientific insights or from the river of ancient wisdom matters little.  The three rivers are merging in our present time and beginning to flow together.

Macy uses knowledge, insight and wisdom from all three of these rivers in her workshops and in this book/manual.  This is one of the strengths of her approach; it is all-encompassing and inclusive of all experience and beings (yes, including the animals, trees and Gaia as a whole).

The exercises presented are drawn from all over the world and from a lifetime of practice.  It shows.  They are outlined in such a way that even just reading through the instructions it is possible to gain new ways of seeing, listening and understanding.

As with many books of this type, the benefit is not so much in the reading as in the putting into practice of what is read.  However, it is not necessary to wait for a workshop based on this book to be presented somewhere near you.  There are many exercises that a few friends could work through in an evening. 

Interspersed through the pages are quotations and poems that sitting by oneself can be contemplated and used as a way to see with new eyes.

So, no matter whether there is just you, a few friends, or a group of several dozen, there is much in this manual to help you through the work of reconnecting.  Macy does, however, recommend the use of workshops.  As she says: “A workshop is an island in time, where, removed from other distractions and demands, we can focus together long enough to explore our deeper responses...”

For anyone considering facilitating a workshop based on this book, Macy has provided expert guidance and suggestions in the book, including advice on when it is best to have participated in a particular exercise before attempting to facilitate it.

In a time in which we are bombarded by Hollywood blockbusters, hand-held video games and other distractions where we are more an external observer, it is good to find a book that actively welcomes and invites our participation and engagement in the world and its future. 

This is one such book.

1. Joanna Macy, Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age, New Society Publishers, 1983.
2. Joanna Macy and Molly Brown, Coming Back to Life, New Society Publishers, 2014

Tuesday 3 February 2015

5 Ways to Save the World

Source: DonkeyHotey,
Creative Commons
Save the Whales, Save the Orang-utans, Save the Glaciers.  Many of us are desperately trying to save this part of that part of the world.  SOS is an universally accepted distress signal – Save Our Souls.  Indeed.  Our consumerist, industrial growth culture has brought us to this point.  SOS – Save Our Societies.


Here are five ways that we must act if we are to save the world.

1. Give Up Control

Western culture has prided itself on being able to understand nature and society by breaking them apart and studying the component pieces.  It has then used that knowledge to control nature and society.  However, the world does not work in such a mechanical and linear fashion.  Some elements within western culture are beginning to understand this and are letting go of the need to control.  The sooner we collectively dispose of this need the better we will all be.

2. Slow Down

“Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last” sang Simon and Garfunkel in 1966.  When Paul Simon wrote that song it may have been just a catchy lyric or he may have been presaging the Slow Movement that began two decades later and has been gaining impetus ever since.  Our pace of life is so fast that we rush here and hurry there with little or no time left to connect meaningfully with one another or with the world.  We are so busy that even connecting with ourselves gets put to the bottom of the to-do list.  Until we slow down we will never be in a position to make the connections that we need to in order to save the world.

3. Accept

We live in a globalised world that pushes consumerism at us at every turn.  We are told that who we are is defined by what we have, and that what we have is never enough.  So we give up our lives to an endless cycle of work-get paid-buy-consume-work…  It is ruining us.  It is ruining the planet.  We have to learn to accept and then we will find that accepting what we have will enable us to find the contentment  that we all deserve.  Accepting will also enable us to discover the gratitude that will save the world from being pillaged to death.

4. Listen

Think of the last conversation you had with someone.  Did you truly listen to them?  Did you understand completely what they were saying?  Or was it a case of listening only to find the break into which you could speak?  Often we don’t really listen to others.  The power of active – or creative – listening is liberating.  It is well worth learning to be a creative/active listener.  It is also worthwhile to learn how to listen to ourselves; to our deep longings and our intuitions.  If we slow down and listen to our heart/mind we may find the source of a creativity that we can use to save the world.  Remember too, that there are many non-human voices to which we must listen.

5. Work Together

We are all connected.  There is no you/me.  Nor is there an us/them.  We are, as Thich Nhat Hanh names it, inter-beings.  When we deliberately connect with one another we bring together a diversity of knowledge, skills and wisdoms that no-one of us can provide alone.  That diversity is exactly what we need to utilise when we come to dealing with the complexity of the world.  Working together is the foundation of mutual support and also the well-spring from which creative possibilities can emerge. 

Five ways.  We could do just one, maybe two of these.  If we do all five, together and in harmony, then just imagine the possibilities.