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 24 November 2015

The Enemy is Us

It seems that humans have a great capacity to find enemies.  For millennia we have been fighting wars, ostracising those we are afraid of (e.g. lepers, homeless, beggars), discriminating based on gender, ethnicity, age, ability (or disability), and a whole host of other criteria.  In each case we have pointed our finger at the enemy - otherwise known as the other

For there to be an other, there must be a self.  Our western tradition has been that our sense of who we are as individuals, our self, is separate to and separate from all other selves. 

What happens when we construct our sense of who we are in this way?  We come to understand ourselves as essentially alone.  For some that aloneness comes quickly and can lead to depressive and even suicidal states.  For others, the dawning comes slowly.  But for most of us in western-styled societies the sense of aloneness is deeply entrenched, so much so that it is almost unconscious.  But, the effects are not so sublimated. 

Being alone brings on a sense of fear – a fear of the other.  That’s a frightening place to be and so we band together with those who are similar to us for protection.  We band together along religious lines.  We band together in ethnic enclaves.  Our ways of banding together have become many and varied.  But we have been able to shift our sense of being from one of isolation and fear to one of belonging and security – I becomes we.

With this collective identity we can attempt to overcome or at least control the other – the enemy. We have pursued that objective time after time through the millennia.  We know of the exploits of Alexander the Great.  We know of the Trojan War from the writings of Homer.  We’ve heard of Genghis Khan, the Crusades and the Hundred Years War.  Many of us now alive have lived through the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and now the war in Syria.

The battle with the enemy is not always a war though.  Discrimination, oppression and subjugation occur without full blown war erupting.  Women have been seeking relief from male dominance for at least two centuries1 – sometimes referred to as the battle of the sexes.  Racism has been a blight on human society and continues to be so.  Homosexual couples are only now beginning to obtain similar rights to heterosexual couples. 

Sometimes the enemy is not other human beings – it can be an idea or product.  The War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism are two such recent examples.

Indeed, the concept of self has become so entrenched and dominant that the sense of other is extended beyond that of other human selves – it extends to other life forms, indeed, to the Earth itself.  And so, we rape, pillage and exploit the Earth.  We wish to dominate nature.  In fact the notion of man (sic) against nature is so well established that it is almost a literary genre.

Finding the enemy is convenient for our sense of self, for our identity.  We find that enemy in the other, in someone or something outside of ourselves.  Over the millennia we have always managed to find that external enemy.

Now we live in a time of climate change and we look for an enemy to blame, an enemy that we can point to and say – “look , they did it, they are the cause of our pain and suffering.”  But, no matter how hard we try, we cannot find that external enemy.  The truly uncomfortable fact is that we must point the finger back at ourselves and say – the enemy is us.2 

That realisation, when we make it, awakens us to a new sense of who we are.  With such a new awareness we may find not only that we do not need enemies; we also find a greater, deeper sense of who we are as well.

As we head towards the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris can we expect answers from that forum?  The possibility is unlikely.  The answers lie with and within each and every one of us.

1. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women was published in 1792.
2. In 1970, for the first Earth Day, Walt Kelly (the creator of the cartoon strop Pogo) created a poster to promote Earth Day in which Pogo the Possum  is preparing to clean up the mess made by humans in his environment.  The poster carries the line: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us.

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