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 26 June 2019

Let’s Not Talk Of The Future

The future.  It’s a tempting thought isn’t it?  The future entices and inspires us.  It entices us with possibilities, and inspires us to invent it. 

Yet, the future also hinders and blinds us.  It hinders our ability to be present and blinds us to current opportunities.

Could our western concept of time and our propensity to “look forward” to a “better future” be part of the very cause of our current predicaments?

Recently I watched the film 2040 and was struck, yet again, by how often we pin our hopes on a bright and glorious future.  A future in which electricity is all generated from renewable sources.  A future where transport is public, efficient, and clean.  A future where land previously devoted to roads and parking can be used for growing of food.  In short, a sustainable, efficient future.

Oh yes, what a world our children and grandchildren stand to inherit.

In the future!

And therein is the barrier that will prevent it from happening.  It is couched in the future.  Yet, we know that if we are offered the choice of something now or in the future, we will opt for “now” and ignore the future option, thinking that there is always the possibility of the second option out there – in the future.

This phenomenon has a name – procrastination.  The causes and psychology of procrastination are many and relate just as much to our individual choices as much as to our collective and cultural choices.  We will tend to ignore, or at least delay action on, something that is couched in the future tense.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than when talking of environmental issues, and issues to do with climate change.

Think about it.  Kyoto, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris – all these summits and conferences projected targets for emissions reductions into the future.  We have emissions targets for 2025, 2030, 2050 – you name a date in the future and there’ll be a target to reach by then.

And, the environmental movement has bought into this time-based discussion.

Let’s opt out.  Let’s not talk about the future.

Let’s talk about now.  Let’s talk about here.  Let’s talk about me and you. 

Let’s talk about what we do (individually and collectively) on a day-to-day basis, right here in our own homes, towns, cities and rural countrysides.

Let’s talk about the energy we use now. 

Let’s talk about how we shop and our purchasing choices today. 

Let’s talk about how we transport ourselves and travel about today and this year.

These are what we should be talking about.  These are the choices we make now.

If we keep talking about the future, then the future will never come.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Call Of The Forest: A Review

Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees1 is a documentary style film featuring Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a renowned botanist and researcher of forests.

To call it a documentary however, doesn’t do it justice.  It is more a poem and invocation to the mystery and majesty of forests. 

Diana’s presence in the film is one of reverence for the trees and forests she explores.  It is reverence entirely called for.  Diana and the other presenters ably show us that the complexity and diversity of forests are intimately linked and essential to all life (including us humans) on earth. 

One example of this is by showing the inter-dependence of forests and oceans, including noting that kelp fields are the forests of the oceans.  Japanese fishermen knew this link, as their saying “if you want to see a fish, climb a tree” attests.

The film takes us into the forests of Japan, Canada, USA, Ireland and Germany, showing how in each instance the forest is unique to its place.  We are also shown the magnificence of the Boreal Forest encircling the northern reaches of the globe through the Americas, Scandinavia, Russia and northern Japan.  This forest is crucial to the continued existence of human life on this planet, yet it too, is threatened by greed, as have been so many forests before.

The film dismisses the myth of forest management that tells us that replanting trees as plantations is sufficient to replace the forest that is cut down.  Plantations are NOT forests.  A forest contains young, old, decaying, maturing trees.  Some are “mother trees” others adolescents or babies.  Forests include the animals, insects, lichens and fungi that have emerged in conjunction with the trees.  A forest is an entire system, whereas a plantation is simply a number of similar trees planted together.

Hinted at in the film is the underground network of mycelium that link trees and allow them to communicate with one another, enable them to share resources and to warn of danger.  This is the one area of the film where I would have liked more.  The brief hint was insufficient.

Visually, this film is magnificent, with excellent photographic work.  Many times one could almost smell the forest and the earth.

The screening I watched ended with applause from the audience in the packed-out hall.  That applause was entirely justified.

Forests offer much to us humans, and this film tells their stories – stories that span thousands upon thousands of years.  The story continues on.  Perhaps this film will help us to hear that story.


Tuesday 11 June 2019

What If We Weren’t Here?

Recently there have been a number of reports suggesting that, in the absence of a drastic change in human lifestyles or a miracle, the end is in sight for the human race.

It’s a wake up call say some.  “A catastrophe,” yell others.  For many, it may just be a “ho hum, I wonder what’s on tele?” moment.

We might also stop and ask ourselves: what if we weren’t here?  What if humanity ceased to exist?  What if we all died off because of heatwaves, drought, superstorms, or floods?  What if food wars or water wars escalated into nuclear warfare and we are killed directly in the mass destruction, or from the nuclear winter that follows?

Okay, all that sounds rather grim, doesn’t it.  But, what if we weren’t here?

Consider this: we are possibly the only life form on Earth that has no other life form dependent upon us.  Other life forms are dependent, or more correctly – co-dependent, upon other life forms for their continued existence.  Other life forms eat, and are eaten by, other life forms.  Yet, we humans tend to eat only.  We do not seem to be dependent in such a way.

Nothing needs us.1

Does this make us independent? No!  It makes us entirely dependent, perhaps the one life form most dependent upon other life forms for our continued existence.

Q: What if we weren’t here?
A: We wouldn’t be missed.

Our being not missed can be witnessed clearly if we look around the world.  Think of the civilisations and cities that have been uncovered, after having been “lost,” from the jungles, forests, and sands, in South America, Africa, and Asia.  These cities were thriving only a few centuries ago.  They were bustling centres of human activity.  People ate, drank, traded, played, slept, procreated in these cities.  Once vacated, the signs of all this activity soon disappeared, covered by other life forms. 
Those humans were not missed.

So, we are dependent.  Synonyms for dependent include: reliant on, needy, at the mercy of.  Being such dependent, reliant, needy life-forms we are surely helpless.  Helpless, that is, if we don’t recognise our dependence upon Earth and its myriad life-forms.

And that makes us obligated.  Obligated because we are the least needed life-form existing upon his planet.

What does this mean?  First, it means that we need to abandon our western cultural myths of control, domination, self-determination, and other such myths that suggest we are the pinnacle of evolution.

When we read the reports of the imminent extinction of the human race, we can read them with fear: fear of death, fear of loss.  These fears are fed by our sense of an independent self and ego.

Yet, if we ask: what if we weren’t here? we may read these these reports with some humility and a sense of obligation.

1. This blog was inspired by a comment from Stephen Jenkinson (author of Come of Age), Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, 6-10 May 2019.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Hopeless Politics

Roman forum.  Democracy is crumbling. 
Recently Australia had a general election.  The incumbent government was returned to power, much to the chagrin of those expecting and hoping for change.  Feelings and emotions ranged from sadness, through despair, to anger and all the way to hopelessness.

Therein lies much of the sterility of modern electoral politics.  Politics and politicians have become increasingly removed from the everyday activity of the common people.1  The chasm was summed up by a quip I overheard the day after the election: “That’s (voting) all over, now I don’t have to think about it for another three years.”  I wonder how many Australian electors thought the same?  Quite a number I suggest, considering that the percentage of informal votes increased from around 5% to more than 7% of the total.2

The paucity of political participation is not unique to Australia of course.  Declining voter participation is matched by an increasing distrust in politicians and the political process worldwide.  There is very good reason for that.  We have been lulled and seduced into a sense of political hope.  Those seeking change get involved in party political campaigns to get so-and-so elected and the candidate from such-and-such party unelected.

Seekers of change hope for a different outcome – an outcome thought to enable the desired change to be more likely.  That’s the problem – hope!

Hope, I have heard recently compared to a mortgage.  Hope mortgages the future.  And the root of mortgage?  The French word mort meaning death.  Hope is projected into the future, it is not grounded in the present.
“Hopeful people do not as a rule hope for what they have.  They hope for what they do not have,”
says Stephen Jenkinson.  As for hopelessness, well, that is hope’s twin, he claims.

That is what I witnessed in the course of the Australian election.  Hope for change prior to the election, and hopelessness afterwards when the hoped for change did not happen.

By putting our faith, hope, and trust in electoral politics we give away our power and our integrity.  For this reason many resort to not voting or casting informal votes.  For some this may be out of a sense of despair or surrender.  For others, not voting may be from a desire to hold onto whatever sense of authentic community participation they may have.

“But, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” is often levelled at those choosing not to vote.  This attempt to discredit and shame someone into their “civic responsibility” is, unfortunately, all too prevalent.  It also reflects a conservatism that inhibits creative thinking about alternatives. 

It can also be claimed that by voting you throw away your claim to participate in community and public decision-making.

When we abandon our claim to participatory decision-making then we leave a vacuum.  Politicians and other power-brokers are very happy to step into that vacuum, and in doing so, claim the right to govern and make decisions for us, and to us.

And that truly is tragic.  Discarding our community decision-making powers leads inevitably to hopelessness and the “I don’t have to think about it” approach on one hand.

On the other hand, those who do not represent us have become our rulers, our decision-makers.  Perhaps at some unconscious, unquestioning, level we instinctively know that politicians do not represent us.  They haven’t for a long time.  Moreso, politicians are becoming less representative.  Ask yourself when was the last time your local plumber or hairdresser, or other common person, was elected?  Then ask yourself: from what strata of society do most of those who claim to represent us truly represent?

We need to ask ourselves, as a society, some serious questions about the way in which our public and community decision-making is constructed.

Then, we must find ways to create something that truly is representative.

P.S. For those asking: “yes, but what’s your alternative?” I suggest you type in the word “sortition” in the “Search Rainbow Juice blog” box.

1. I use “common” deliberately in an attempt to reclaim its honourable meaning of "to move together."
2. Voting is compulsory in Australia.
3. Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2015.