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 31 October 2019

Rescuing Ourselves And The Planet

There is a common unhealthy triangle that plays out in many social settings.  It requires three players: a Perpetrator of harm, a Victim of that harm, and a Rescuer who “saves” the Victim.1

Why unhealthy?  All three are in a co-dependent relationship, and require the presence of the other two to satisfy their egos.  The Perpetrator needs the Victim and, as absurd and senseless as it may seem, the Victim needs the Perpetrator.  The Victim also needs the Rescuer to “save” them and rescue them from their helplessness.  The Rescuer too, needs the Victim in order to satisfy their desire to be worthy, as their own sense of self-worth has been lost or abandoned, possibly in childhood.  The Rescuer also needs the Perpetrator to create the Victim that can then be “rescued” by the Rescuer.

And, of course, the Perpetrator needs both the Victim and the Rescuer.  The former to represent someone (or something) that they can take out their deep held frustrations and anger upon.  And the Rescuer is necessary so as to maintain a steady supply of Victims.

It’s an unhealthy triangle.

Each of these roles often get developed early in life as our egos are forming.  Our western-styled society remains trapped within an ego-centric approach to individual and cultural development and places too little, if any, emphasis of eco-centric or soul-centric development.

Thus, we are enmeshed in a society that accentuates an ego-centric psyche, and because of that, perpetuates a continuing ego-centric culture.

Rescuing The Planet

All too often this same unhealthy triangle plays out in our response to environmental issues, including climate change.

Apart from minor exceptions, we humans play out the roles of Perpetrator, Victim, and Rescuer.

There is little doubt that we are the major Perpetrators of environmental damage upon this planet.

Many around the world are now recognising that we humans have become the Victims of our own actions - our perpetrations.  Some have thought beyond this anthro-centric view and perceive nature, the planet, the Earth, to be a Victim of this Perpetrator called homo sapiens.

With a Victim mentality we then approach the Earth and nature as Rescuers.  It is our job to rescue the planet, to “save” the Earth.

Somewhere, somehow, we must overcome and disrupt this unhealthy triangle.

We need to re-think who we are.  We are not the “top of the pile” dominators, exploiters, and/or consumers of the Earth’s resources.  Nor are we the “ultimate consciousness” that can rescue our future or save the planet.

We need to discover (perhaps re-discover) a nature-centred (eco-centric) consciousness – one in which we are no more, nor any less, than all the rest of nature.

1. The use the capitalised forms of Perpetrator, Victim, Rescuer are meant to indicate a part of one’s psyche that informs one’s approach to the world, and relationships within it.  These three roles often get formed in childhood.

Thursday 17 October 2019

THINK Of A Better World

In 1872 Mary Ann Pietzker wrote a poem entitled “Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?”  Since then this poem has morphed into an acronym that exhorts us to THINK before we speak (or write).  The acronym suggests we ask ourselves, before speaking:

Is it …

Most of us, in our work for social justice, environmental preservation, or community development, have one common goal – the desire for a better world.

The creation, or evolution, of a better world surely includes how we treat one another, including those with whom we may disagree.

In that disagreement it is still possible to speak with thought – to THINK about what we say, and about how we say it.

Note that the acronym does not ask: Is It Agreeing?  We do not need to agree in order to be kind, honest, or inspiring.

Let’s also be clear about how we disagree, and what we disagree about.

Suppose you have a preference for Earl Grey tea over English Breakfast tea.  Suppose I prefer English Breakfast and dislike Earl Grey. 

What if I say to you “Earl Grey is vile, loathsome rubbish.”  That may be my truth, but it is hardly inspiring.  It is also unnecessary, and it is definitely unkind.  I could have just said “I prefer English Breakfast,” or nothing at all.

Disagreement for disagreements sake is pointless and often ignites tensions and quickly descends into an unnecessary argument.

The other sort of disagreement that is pointless is that of name-calling and insult.  In a recent post I noted that this usually leads to disconnection and greater polarisation.

In our work towards a better world we eventually come to a realisation that we are all connected.  At some deeper level we are all kin.

In our speech (and our writing) it would pay to THINK first, and then speak (or write) with kindness.1

1. The word kin and kindness come from the same etymological root.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Going On Holiday

I overheard a conversation this morning:

“I’m going on holiday,” said one.

“Oh, where are you going?” came the reply.

It’s a fairly common conversation isn’t it?  We say we are going on holiday.  Why do we say that?  What is it about our current location that means we must go somewhere for a holiday?

In one sense it’s a little sad.  What has come to pass in our culture that we have to go somewhere else for recreation, relaxation, or pleasure?

It hasn’t always been that way. 

A Holy Day until fairly recently has been a day on which we acknowledged something important in our culture – an anniversary of a momentous event, or a day that contained spiritual significance.

Holy comes to us linguistically from the Old English word halig meaning consecrated.  It pre-dates Christianity and had the sense of “that which must be preserved whole or intact and not violated.”

We have forgotten what is holy in the here and now, and we must leave the here and now and go on holiday.

Vacating Our Place

In the US, the more common term for holiday is vacation.  This word perhaps even more tersely signals the desire to go.  The word gives us a clue – we vacate. 

The root of the word vacation is the Proto-Indo-European word eue meaning to leave, abandon.

What are we abandoning, or going away from? 

Is that what our work ethic, and our institutionalised lives have come to?  That when we celebrate a holiday we must go somewhere else, we must abandon our everyday lives?

The Tourist Fantasy

Going on holiday has now become more and more synonymous with tourism.  We become tourists.

The word tourist entered the English language fairly recently, at the end of the 18th century.  But. my, how we have embraced it.  Tourism has soared.

In 1950 there were approximately 25 million “tourists” world-wide.  Today, every year, the world sees over 1.4 billion tourists.  That’s a 5,600% increase in just 68 years!

One person in every hundred was a tourist in 1950.  Today, one in every 5 is.

Sad, isn’t it?

That we must go somewhere else and abandon our lives in order to find rest, recreation, and/or pleasure.

We have lost the ability to celebrate what is holy in our lives.  We have forgotten how to enjoy our Holy Days.  We have lost connection with our place.

Friday 4 October 2019

Feeding That Which Feeds Us

Most of us have heard of the fight or flight response.  When faced with a threatening situation, we become distressed, and an instinctual evolutionary response ensues.  We either turn tail and run, or we stand and fight.  We may also just freeze.

When we are threatened, our brain (specifically the amygdala) notices the threat and then, like a central command post, sends out distress signals resulting in the production of adrenaline and other hormones.

Most of us know what happens next:  our heart beats faster, our pulse rate goes up, so does our blood pressure.  We breathe more rapidly, and our senses sharpen.  Blood sugars get released.

If we continue to perceive the cause of our distress then the body releases cortisol, which acts to keep the body on “high alert.”

A continued state of high alert, however, is not good; it can become chronic and toxic.  We get into a vicious downward cycle. The build-up of cortisol in the brain increases the size of the amygdala, thus making the brain even more susceptible to distress.

Long-term, chronic distress negatively affects us.  We suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, depression, and form addictions.

Constant Stress

Our modern lifestyle is no longer a “healthy” one.  We are bombarded daily with stressors and other threats.  From the constant racket of traffic, to the deadline to be met by 4.30pm.  From the glare of an iPad or TV monitor, to the lack of car parking space.  Daily there may be hundreds of distress-causing events.

It is little wonder then that most of us are living with chronic distress.  Our bodies are constantly on “high alert,” our sympathetic nervous system is always switched on.  Our parasympathetic nervous system becomes redundant.1

This constant state of distress impairs our ability to think critically,2 and dampens our creativity.

Climate Stress

Right now we are witnessing a dramatic increase in atmospheric carbon concentrations and a warming of the planet, bringing about climate change.

We have already witnessed how this is stress-inducing for people.  People in low-lying Pacific nations live with the constant fear of flooding.  In other parts of the world people live with the stress of drought, or massive hurricanes and tornadoes.  Others find their crops failing and soils being depleted.

It would seem that, in this early part of the 21st century we require both critical thinking and a creative response.

But, if our modern lifestyles hinder both, how do we nourish these capabilities?

Feed That Which Feeds Us

Fortunately, nature provides a solution.  And, it’s a simple one.  It doesn’t cost anything.  It is readily available.  It can be applied by oneself, in pairs, or in larger groups.

It just asks one thing of you: get outside, get into nature.  Go and sit under a tree, in a forest (bush) if nearby. 

Spending time, mindfully, in nature has been shown to reduce distress by lessening the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.  Time spent in nature reduces blood pressure (some research suggests this can last up to 5 days). 

So, the very thing we wish to “save” is the very thing that will feed the critical thinking and creativity we so desperately need.

We must learn to feed that which has been feeding us all along.3

1. Our bodies have two nervous systems.  The Sympathetic Nervous System is the one that kicks in with adrenaline to ready the body to fight or flee.  On the other hand, our Parasympathetic Nervous System is the system that brings our bodies back into balance, it calms us.
2. Note that critical thinking is not the same as to criticise.  Although both come from the same Greek word (kritikos) critical thinking means analysing facts, in a clear, rational, open-minded, evidence-based, manner to form a judgement.  Criticise, however, means to find fault in someone or something, and has the sense of shame, censure, or condemnation about it.
3. With thanks to Stephen Jenkinson for this metaphor.  Stephen (MTS, MSW) is a teacher, author, storyteller, spiritual activist, farmer and founder of the Orphan Wisdom School (based in Canada), a teaching house and learning house for the skills of deep living and making human culture.