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, 21 November 2019

Is This The Most Effective Social Change Strategy?

R Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller
All around the world there are thousands upon thousands of people seeking and working towards social change.

What’s their strategy?

Many, I would venture, may not be able to answer that question.  Others may answer in terms of tactics rather than strategy.

So, perhaps a clarification of the distinction between strategy and tactics is in order.

Strategy defines how a long-term goal is to be achieved.  Tactics describe the specific actions along the way that get you there.

Strategy can be visualised as the path you wish to take.  Tactics are the steps you take on that path.

Working towards social change requires both strategy and tactics.  2,500 years ago the military strategist Sun Tzu wrote that,
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Thinking about, and formulating, a strategy before considering tactics is crucial if we are to achieve our goals.  Otherwise all we do is create a lot of noise.1

Social change advocates utilise many strategies with greater or lesser effectiveness.  Are all strategies of equal worth?  Is it better to have an ineffective strategy than no strategy at all?  What is the most effective strategy?

Is It This One?

Richard Buckminster Fuller (Bucky) was an American architect, systems thinker, futurist, designer.  He wrote more than 30 books, was awarded 47 honorary degrees, and is perhaps best known for popularising the geodesic dome.

In a 2011 book on Bucky’s life and philosophy Fuller is quoted as saying,
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”2
Is this the most effective social change strategy ever espoused?  It is certainly quite different than most other social change strategies, which strategise about how to change the present reality by opposing it.

Fuller however, not only tells us what strategy does not work, he suggests a strategy that does.  In one of his last books published whilst he was still alive, Fuller tells us that he,
“…resolved never to attack or oppose undesirable socioeconomic phenomena, but instead committed myself to evolving and cultivating tools that would accomplish humanity’s necessitous tasks in so much easier, more pleasant, and more efficient ways that, without thinking about it, the undesirable ways would be abandoned by society.” 3
Was Fuller na├»ve, or was he just able to see more clearly than many of the rest of us?  Certainly this quote suggests he had a lot of faith in humanity.  Perhaps more faith than those who espouse strategies of opposition and confrontation.

But, let us stop and consider for a moment.  If we were to adopt Bucky’s strategy what would that mean?

First, we would be working for something rather than against something.  Surely that would serve to reduce our feelings of frustration, despair, and anger.

Second, it would save a lot of wasted energy.  Energy that could be put towards a better future, and in doing that, a better now.

Third, it would inspire us to think creatively and to use our imaginations in a fuller (thanks Bucky) manner.

Fourth, this strategy shifts our thinking away from hierarchical and centralised power structures to inter-connected networks in which power is shared.

You could call this strategy the Strategy Of Ignorance.  Not a blissful sort of ignorance, nor an ignorance that offers nothing.  Rather, a very conscious disregard of, a snubbing of, social structures that do not serve the needs of people and the planet.  It is a strategy that gives the cold-shoulder to elites.  But, it does not stop at ignoring, it then goes on to do something - to "build a new model."

Now For Tactics

Adopting this strategy also means co-creating new and different tactics.  No longer the tactics of opposition, anger, and frustration; rather, tactics that call on our resources of cooperation, mutuality, and respect.

Already, there are many people undertaking tactics that fit with this strategy.  Think of the permaculture movement, or Transition Towns, of those exploring truly democratic decision-making methods, or nature-based therapies.

All these, and others, are examples of tactics that guide our steps along Fuller’s strategic pathway.

Do we have the willingness, and the courage, to adopt Fuller’s strategy?

Notes:
1. Sun Tzu’s use of the word “noise” is interesting.  Many of the tactics of the strategies of opposition are often noisy. 
2. L Steven Sieden, A Fuller View - Buckminster Fuller´s Vision of Hope and Abundance for All, Divine Arts Media, 2011.
3. R Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1981







Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Kindness Amongst Kin

We’ve always known it, haven’t we?  We’ve known that we are all family, that we are all connected.  And… we’ve known that our acts of kindness celebrate and sustain that connection.

Sometimes we forget though.  Perhaps we lose the knowledge.

It’s easy to find though.  It’s right there in our language.  There’s kin in our kindness; our kindness embraces our kin.

That’s no coincidence.  Both words – kin and kindness – derive from the same etymological roots.  The Proto-Germanic word kundjaz (meaning family, race) is the grand-kin of both words.  Before that, the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word gene is an ancient forebear.  Meaning to give birth, to beget, it is clearly the foundation of many English words such as generate, genome, generation, generous, and congenial. 

A few iterations also gives us kin and kind.

When we remember this linguistic connection it becomes much easier to understand our human connection and inter-relatedness.  Then, it becomes quite normal and routine to show kindness to our kin.

So, on this World Kindness Day,1 let us recall that we are all kin and allow ourselves to offer some kindness.

Note:
1. World Kindness Day (13 November) is an initiative of the World Kindness Movement.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Law Of The Jungle

Often we seem to live our lives according to catch-phrases; phrases that sum up in a few words a concept, ideology, or world-view.  One such phrase is the Law of the Jungle.

In general terms this phrase has come to be synonymous with other catch-phrases such as; ‘dog eat dog’, ‘only the strong survive’, ‘every man (sic) for himself’, ‘kill or be killed.’  Harsh, terrifying, and ultimately degrading, both to us as humans, and also to the inhabitants of jungles.

Is the Law of the Jungle so brutish, violent, and full of such terror?  Indeed, is there a law of the jungle?

The phrase Law of the Jungle is only a little over 100 years old.  It was coined by Rudyard Kipling in his The Second Jungle Book.1

In that book Kipling wrote a poem that outlined The Law for the Wolves.  It is noteworthy that it was the wolf pack that raised Mowgli – a human child.

Early in the poem Kipling writes this line:
“For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
This is an acknowledgement of co-operation, mutuality, and inter-connection – a far cry from the associations we have today of the law of the jungle.

When we do enter the jungle, or any natural environment, we observe a law (lore) that speaks of reciprocity and connectivity.  Yes, there may be killing and death; what is far more noticeable is abundant life, staggering diversity, and a mutuality of associations.

Noticing this about the jungle we might come up with catch-phrases such as ‘give and take’, ‘live and let live’, ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, or ‘we’re all in this together.’

So, where do the harsh, terrifying, catch-phrases come from?

Fear!

We have come to fear the jungle.  We have come to fear nature.  Our fear is derived from our disconnection from nature.  A disconnect that began 5,000 – 10,000 years ago when we began to domesticate plants and animals, and to settle in one location.  The Industrial Revolution exacerbated this disconnection within western-styled cultures. 

Nature had to be “tamed” in order for us to progress and overcome the fear that had become so embedded within our collective psyche.

In western-styled cultures, and cultures that are not nature-based, our fear is so embedded that we no longer recognise the basis of that fear.  The modern associations with the Law of the Jungle become normalised.

Not only has our disconnect from nature given rise to a fear of nature, it has promoted disconnection from one another, and a fear of other humans.  The catch-phrase ‘every man (sic) for himself’ epitomises this disconnect and fear.

Overcoming The Fear

How do we overcome this fear?

By delving into it.  Not by pushing it aside, or trying to nullify it.  But by jumping into it, and exploring it.  How does this fear feel in my body?  What beliefs do I have that support my fear?  What lies behind my fear?

Once we have done that we may decide to spend some time in nature.  Doing so can help overcome our fear, it can also assist with our general well-being.

We can explore how each of our exterior senses (smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing) is stimulated by trees, creeks, birds, earth, insects, rocks, ferns.  Doing so may enliven our inner senses too – our intuition, our inner radar, our proprioception, our imagination.

Overcoming our fear and reconnecting with nature in this way may lead us o discover quite a different understanding of what is meant by the Law of the Jungle.

Note:
1. Rudyard Kipling, The Second Jungle Book, UK, 1895.