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 30 January 2020

Less Noisy Tactics

In a recent blog post I quoted Lao Tzu as saying,
Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
That blog post also suggested a social change strategy based on Buckminster Fuller’s observation that,
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
What might less noisy tactics that help build a new model look like?

First, let me suggest an (admittedly simplified) model of the “existing reality” as it pertains to social change tactics.

In the diagram below, we can position allies, opponents, neutrals etc on the chart depending upon whether a group fully supports our position (+++), is completely opposed (- - -) or somewhere between.

Tactically, how do we get more people to recognise, understand, and actively engage with our position?

The first thing to recognise is that is nigh on impossible to get those of the - - - persuasion to leap across the chasm and join the +++. 

Even getting those in the middle (0) to suddenly join the +++ would require an enormous amount of effort to climb the gap.

However, getting people or groups to shift a small way on the pendulum (say from – to 0) may be possible.

Facts Don’t Cut It

The second thing to recognise is that, generally speaking, people do not change their views or beliefs because of facts.  Indeed, the more the “facts” conflict with the views and beliefs of their circle of friends, acquaintances (or “tribe”) the less likely it is that facts will have any chance to persuade.
James Clear1 noted that
“…social connection is actually more helpful to your daily life than understanding the truth of a particular fact or idea.”
Hence, tactically, if we want to “persuade” someone or a group to shift their views or beliefs closer to our own then we need to “engage” rather than “convince.”

This also means that we need to think of what tactics may elicit small shifts on the pendulum.

Assisting a group (or individual) to move from say a 0 to a + is more likely than getting them to shift from 0 to +++.  This is indicated visually by the arrows in the diagram below.

This suggests that the most effective tactics are those that engage with people at a companionable, friendly, and mutually respectful level.

This may mean that we need to shift our own “staunchness” a little, perhaps shifting from a ++ position to a + and hence a little closer to someone at 0.

One of the best ways to do this is over a meal.  The philosopher Alain de Botton summarised this approach in his book Religion for Atheists2;
“Sitting down at a table with a group of strangers has the incomparable and odd benefit of making it a little more difficult to hate them with impunity.”
Engaging Tactics

So, tactics are all about engagement.

There is much more that could be said about social change tactics, but this brief look suggests a way to think about tactics.

Of course, the tactics chosen need to always be aware of your overall strategy.  Remember, I am suggesting a strategy of building a new model, rather than tinkering with the existing (a la Bucky Fuller.)

Finally, a word of warning.  When entering into an engagement with someone or a group about shifting views and/or beliefs, always be open to shifting your own views and/or beliefs.

1. James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits (pub. Penguin, New York, 2018), a guide to building good habits and breaking bad ones. 
2. Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists, Penguin, London, 2012.

Saturday 18 January 2020

Rescuing The Damsel Within

One of the most enduring of myths in western culture is that of the damsel in distress. 

Perhaps the earliest such example of the myth is that of Andromeda tied to a rock guarded by a sea monster, and rescued by Perseus.  Ovid (43 BC – 17/18 AD) records this myth for us.

The most common modern-day interpretation of this myth is that men have to save women, and to do so, must display their strength (in order to overcome the monster.)

Although this interpretation has been challenged, it still persists and indeed, is glorified, within the film industry.  Modern day examples include; Ann Darrow in King Kong, Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean, and Princess Leia in Star Wars.

This interpretation feeds the (undeveloped) male ego and continues the dominance of the patriarchal system in western-styled societies.

However, what if there is another way to think of this myth?

The Damsel Within

Before proceeding further, I should lay out three premises (that do have some justification):

1. Prior to about week 7 of pregnancy, all human babies are destined to become female.  Around week 7 the Y chromosome begins signalling the start of testosterone production and hence the development of a male child.

2. Myths and dreams are related.  Myths are how we culturally dream.  Joseph Campbell1 noted that,
“the myth is the public dream, and the dream is the private myth.”
3. Carl Jung pointed out that the characters (elements) of dreams arise from within the dreamer’s own psyche.  They are not usually associated with something or someone outside of the dreamer’s own psyche.

It was Jung, also, who introduced the concept of the anima and animus.  The Jungian psychologist, Dr Marie-Louise von Franz,2 described the anima as,
“a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man’s psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature, and…his relation to the unconscious.”3
Using this concept and the three premises above, we can take another look at the damsel in distress myth.

The damsel is no longer a woman separate to, or distinct from, the male – the damsel is the feminine within the male.

And, that feminine aspect is trapped, bound, and unable to be released.

Part of the male must save his own damsel within. 

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the male population are unaware of the anima – the damsel within.  Most men, if aware of this myth at all, continue to see it as big, powerful, macho men rescuing weak, powerless, women.

Yet, as Premise 1 notes, it is only from week 7 of pregnancy that the male begins to be formed.  Hence, a large part of a male remains female.

By not accepting the damsel within, a man is not accepting his full self.

Something Must Die

So, how do men rescue their damsel within?  How do men gain access to their anima?

Let’s go back to the myth.  The myth tells us that the damsel is guarded by something – usually a monster, a dragon (remember St George and the Dragon), or (as in the case of King Kong) a large beast.

How does the hero of the myth get past this guardian?  Usually by killing it. 

In dreams, and myths, killing often signifies something other than a literal death.  Often it signifies that something must be discarded, put down, left behind.  Some part of the dreamer must die in order for the new, more fully-fledged, mature male to emerge.

What does the monster, beast, or dragon, in this myth signify?  What aspect of a male must die so that the feminine can emerge?

I'm not going to answer that question here.  I will attempt to do so in a later post.  At this stage, it may be worth the reader pondering the question themselves, as the monster may represent something different in each man.

Who is the Hero?

What of the hero in the myth?  What aspect of the male psyche does the hero represent?
Another Jungian analyst, Dr Joseph Henderson, noted that,
“…the need for hero symbols arises when the ego needs strengthening – when…the conscious mind needs assistance in some task that it cannot accomplish unaided or without drawing on the resources of strength that lie in the unconscious mind.”4
This tells us that the task of killing the monster is not an easy one, nor is it readily apparent, at least not to the conscious mind.

The heroes in these myths do give us some clues as to what heroic traits are necessary: resilience (they don’t give up); the acceptance of mentors, tutors, or elders; an awareness of strengths and weaknesses (often after facing earlier trials); a willingness to learn on the journey towards the encounter with the monster.

A Rescued Myth

What if this interpretation of the damsel in distress myth is more accurate?

Maybe more men would discover their anima, their inner feminine, and in doing so discover the tendencies alluded to by Dr Marie-Louise von Franz above.

Maybe too, Mother Earth would gain from men becoming less inclined to approach her from a macho point-of-view and treat her as another aspect of themselves; the capacity for personal love, and feeling for nature.

Any thoughts?

1. Joseph Campbell has possibly done more to bring our modern attention to the role of myths in society.  He is the author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth, and other works.
2. Dr Marie-Louise von Franz (1915-1998) met Carl Jung when she was 18 and it was a “decisive encounter in her life” (as she described it.)  She went on to become a Jungian psychologist known for her psychological interpretations of fairy tales.
3. Dr Marie-Louise van Franz in Carl Jung (ed.) Man and His Symbols, p 186.  Note: The animus is the masculine psychological tendencies in a woman’s psyche.
4. Dr Joseph L Henderson, ibid. p114.

Monday 13 January 2020

Elder Water and Youthful Fire

Image: Rosewilliams at
I write this against the backdrop of the devastating bushfires in Australia.  In the state I live in (New South Wales) these fires began in September 2019, and are still raging.

Over one billion (yes, you read that correct – one billion) animals have been killed.  The fires have burnt through 11 million hectares.

Although there have been denialists, experts (ranging from Fire and Rescue Commissioners, to scientists, to foresters) all say that climate change is creating the conditions in which fire is more likely, more frequent, and more intense. 

Climate change is also making it less possible to prevent fires, and less possible to deal with them once ablaze.

Around the world there have been other major climatic events over the past year: second warmest year on record, near record Arctic sea-ice melt, second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record (Dorian), wettest year in US history leading to $15 billion worth of flood damage.

We are living in troubled times.

And many people are recognising that, not the least the youth of the world.  The Student Climate Strike of September 2019 saw over 4 million people take part, spread across 150 countries.

Young people are frustrated, young people are angry.  Young people are raising their voices.

How Does An Elder Act?

As a Baby Boomer (born in the 1950s) I ask myself: how should an elder act in these troubled times?
I have emphasised the word “elder” here, so as to distinguish from the question: how does an older person act?

The distinction is important, because an elder does not become an elder simply by surviving the ravages or comforts of time. 

Elder Water and Youthful Fire

Before returning to my question, a quick diversion.

A healthy human development journey could be characterised as moving through the four elements (Air, Fire, Earth, Water) of life.  Childhood is the time of Air: new breath, breeziness, wonder, imagination.  The teenage and young adult time is that of Fire: passion, energy, love, anger, strength, dynamism.  The years of Adulthood are the Earth years: stability, groundedness, fertility, security, prosperity.  Then the Elder can be represented by Water: cleansing, healing, fluid flow, purification, receptivity, unconditional love.1

Back to my question: how should an elder act in these troubled times?2

I must admit to struggling to find an adequate answer, although the question itself is worth repeating over and over again.  Because it is not a question that often gets asked.

Even in the company of older people it is an uncomfortable question to raise.  There are so few true elders in western-styled culture that there are little or no examples to learn from, or to follow.  It is an uncomfortable question too, because it calls into question as to what has been done in our lives to warrant the role of elderhood?

Returning to the Water/Fire symbolism, I can suggest some answers about what an elder does not do.

Being Water, an elder does not use that water to douse the Fire of youth.  An elder does not dampen the spirits of young people.  An elder listens to the anger of young people with compassion.  An elder in troubled times (times in which young people are fearful for the future) does not tell young people to “shut up, go to school, get a job.”

Also, an Elder does not use the Fire of youth to boil the Water of old age.  To do so is a form of stealing from the young.  It is a form of saying “look at me, I’m just as mad as you.”  Hearing, and witnessing that, a young person has every right to turn around and say “OK Boomer!”

So, how does an elder act?  What does an elder do?  What does an elder say?  How does an elder be?

I’m grappling with answers to these questions, so if there are any thoughts from readers, then I would love to hear them.

The answers may lie in the qualities/traits of Water: cleansing, healing, fluid flow, purification, stability, strength, change, devotion, receptivity, impermanence, unconditional love.

Another blog beckons.

1. The Four Element conception of the human development journey is my own, although highly influenced by eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin.  Along with Plotkin I suggest that a large percentage of individuals in western-styled societies and western culture itself are stuck in what Plotkin calls “patho-adolescence.”  Thus, very few arrive at the Waters of Elderhood.  See Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul, New World Library, California, 2008.
2.  “Elders in troubled times” is a reference to: Stephen Jenkinson, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble, North Atlantic Books, California, 2018.

Thursday 2 January 2020


It’s here – 2020.  I know its a cliché but I can’t help it.  Will we collectively gain some 20/20 vision this year?

2019 saw devastating (some call them “unprecedented”) bushfires in Australia, the Amazon, California and Russia.

The streets of Hong Kong, Paris, and other major capitals were continuously rocked with protest.

New Zealand and Sri Lanka were the targets of mass shooting and bombing.

Intense hurricanes in the Caribbean and the US caused massive damage.

The world’s wealth was concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.

The leader of the world’s most powerful nation faced impeachment.

Nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsular rose, fell, and rose back again.

Amidst all this almost the only ones voicing a vision for the future were the youth of the world.  By now Greta Thunberg’s name will be a household one.  There are many others: advocating for climate action, water rights, anti-gun lobbyists, the rights of girls and women.

So, will 2020 bring us 20/20 vision?

20/20 vision is defined as normal visual acuity and means that you can see clearly from 20 feet what should normally be able to be seen at 20 feet.

If, however, you have 20/100 vision it means that you have to be as close as 20 feet to an object that others would be able to see from 100 feet away.

Metaphorically then, it would seem that young people are able to clearly see 100 feet into the future.  Meanwhile the partial blindness of many of the world’s leaders makes them unwilling to take the steps that would bring them within 20 feet of that future.

More To Vision

There is more to vision than 20/20 though.  If I may be permitted to extend the metaphor a bit further; vision is also characterised by peripheral awareness, depth perception, colour, and the ability to focus.

A vision for the future then could include the ability to:
  • recognise how things are inter-connected (peripheral awareness)
  • understand the many layers of cause and effect, rather than one-dimensional linearity (depth perception)
  • not become distracted by false news, political red-herrings, name calling, blaming and shaming (focus)
  • make discerning and considered judgements, not based on prejudice (colour recognition).
There didn’t seem to be a lot of these features of vision on offer in 2019.

Will 2020 be the year that humans arrive at a shared vision?