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 24 August 2016

Throw Down The Sword

“I have to be a warrior, a slave I cannot be
A soldier and a conqueror, fighting to be free.”
So went a couple of lines from the 1972 song “Warrior” by the English rock band Wishbone Ash. Man the Warrior has been, and still is, a “legitimate” career and profession for many men, with a number of countries now also permitting women to join the front-line of their militaries.  Man the Warrior has also been a prevailing archetype for many men for centuries, possibly millennia.

Men have been the the conqueror, the hunter, the provider, the powerful one in the interplay between men and women.  Today, many of these gender role divisions are breaking down and being redefined and redistributed.  And, not before time.

However, the warrior image remains embedded within men’s psyches and modes of being.  Even parts of the men's movement continues to give credence to the image.  Many writings on masculinity suggest four archetypes: King, Magician, Lover and WarriorA number of attributes are associated with The Warrior archetype, including; purpose, vigilance, courage, adaptability, decisiveness, loyalty, skillfulness, discipline.

The warrior metaphor, unfortunately, also conjures up images of power over, hierarchy, aggression, conflict, dominance, competition, and uncomplaining stoicism.  This image has marched young men off to war at the decree of hawkish political leaders.  This image has led men to become the puppets of captains of industry and capitalism.  Psychologically and emotionally the image has been elemental in the high incidence of mental health issues for men.  All three of these effects of the Man as Warrior metaphor are linked.  As an example consider the fact that the number of US war veterans who commit suicide significantly outnumber the number killed in active service.
The psychiatrist and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) researcher, Bessel van der Kolk, relates the story of a Vietnam War veteran he was working with.  When the veteran heard the wails of a child he “found himself suddenly flooded with unbearable images of dying children in Vietnam.”  This is just one aspect of the psychological impact of PTSD on men.

But trauma can be brought about by a compounding of incidents.  Men are cajoled to contain their emotion from a very early age.  Men are pressured to “man up” from their teenage years onwards.  Any sign of “feminine” emotionality or unmanly behaviour (such as gayness, bisexuality, or transgender tendencies) are likely to lead to being bullied.  After decades of this onslaught is it any wonder that men may be experiencing sublimated PTSD?

Not only is this warrior image damaging to men, it is devastating for women, children, other cultures, and the planet as a whole.  The domineering and hierarchical images within the warrior metaphor lead directly to misogyny, domestic violence, rape, environmental destruction and war – the crucible of the warrior.

I Don’t Have To Be A Warrior

But we men do not have to be warriors.  We can, and are, transcending this archetype.  Years ago Carl Jung asserted that within men there were the same qualities as within women , and vice versa.  Men can tap into these qualities: qualities of compassion, empathy, forgiveness, humility, and most importantly vulnerability.  We men must shed our armour of invulnerability, lay down our shield of invincibility.  We must throw away our swords of domination and aggression. 

There are signs that men are doing so.  For many men this a frightening journey because it challenges most of the stories that we have been told about what a  man is.  This should not prove too difficult though.  After all, one of the stories that we get told is that, as men, we must face our challenges.

Yes, we men must put aside the Man as Warrior archetype.  Interestingly, when Wishbone Ash recorded the song “Warrior” for their 1972 album1 the song that followed was “Throw Down The Sword.”

Men – it’s time to throw down the sword. 

1. Wishbone Ash, Argus, Decca Records, 1972

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