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 29 July 2020

Safety Or Security?

Photo: Solveig Larsen

Over the course of this year, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there have been phrases such as “keeping us safe,” “it’s for safety reasons,” or similar spread around.

This blogpost is not about the rights or wrongs of the response to coronavirus; in fact, it won’t even use the word again. 

However, the concerns over safety raise important questions related to our, primarily western, approach to how we live in the world.

We have traded in our security for safety.

What do I mean by that?  Aren’t security and safety the same thing?  No, they’re not.  Let’s start back a bit.

Western-styled culture began to disconnect from nature some 10–12,000 years ago, increasing that disconnect significantly since the Industrial Revolution just 200-250 years ago.

As we moved steadily further and further from our natural home, two human responses came with that, both fuelling and being fuelled by the disconnect.

One is a fear of nature.  Nature became a dark, wild, terrifying place.  The other was our desire for control.  Nature was to be tamed, controlled, and exploited.

The two responses are the flip side of each other.  Fear of nature means we must tame and control nature.  A tamed nature suggests it is something to be feared in case it becomes un-tamed.

Because we removed ourselves from nature we had to protect ourselves from this wild, un-tamed, and terrifying locale.  We developed a “cotton-wool” approach (especially during the latter half of the twentieth century) to how we raise children, how we care for the elderly, and to life in general.

Ironically, the more we tried to keep ourselves safe from nature, the more we experienced harmful problems that stem from so-called “natural” sources.

The Paradox

Paradoxically, we become more secure when we let go of the desire to make ourselves safe.  We become safer when we let go of the need to distance ourselves from nature.  Etymologically, the word secure comes from two Latin words, se and cura, which together literally mean without care or setting concern aside.

When we recognise that we are not separate from nature, but are an intimate part of nature, then we no longer need to set up safety nets.  We no longer fear nature.

When we reconnect with nature we become more secure as we settle into our natural niche without wishing to control or exploit nature.

We must let go the insane desire to improve the world, to fix nature.  We must let go our egocentric, and anthropocentric, sense of superiority and separation.

If we continue to act as if we are separate from nature, if we continue to act out of fear of nature, and if we continue to exploit nature, then we will continually be trying, vainly, to find ways to keep ourselves safe.

If we are willing to let go and find our niche in nature, and willing to accept that we are no greater, nor lesser, than any other aspect of nature, then we will find we become naturally secure.

We must let go of wanting to be safe.

We can be secure.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Tempered Jubilation

Photo: Solveig Larsen

Last week I wrote of my jubilation in the face of impending environmental and social collapse.  Some readers, especially those of younger generations, may have interpreted that as the attitude of a typical uncaring, apathetic, or unconcerned boomer.

That accusation has some justification.  Acceptance of life as it is, is one of the states-of-mind that has come to me as I grow older.  Acceptance is one of the joys of older age.  Radical acceptance however, does not automatically equate to a detached, unrealistic view of what is happening in, and to, the world.1

My jubilation is not brought about by the pain and suffering that will be inflicted upon many people in the coming years.  I am jubilant because the system that has brought us to the brink can no longer exist, in fact, it must collapse.

Many boomers were aware of the dangers of the industrial-growth system, and actively sought to oppose that system.  Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.  Nature is now bringing on the collapse herself.  And that is why I am jubilant.  However, that jubilation is tempered by recognising that the collapse of our climate, environment, and biodiversity is highly likely, and that will have a far greater impact on generations to come.

I consider myself lucky to have survived to an age where I can enjoy the peace that comes with radical acceptance.  Acceptance does seem to be one of the benefits that comes with advancing age, but not unique to it – other ages may also discover the freeing power of radical acceptance.

However, the fact that we were unsuccessful in halting the dangerous behemoth of the industrial-growth system (or, for many of my generation, actively colluding with it, and continuing to do so) means that many younger generations may not reach the age at which acceptance becomes a rewarding state-of-mind.

My generation may become one of the last generations that are able to experience the pleasure of acceptance and jubilation.  That necessitates a responsibility no less than it was when I was much younger.  Perhaps, moreso.

1. “Radical acceptance” was coined by psychologist and author, Tara Branch, who describes it this way:  “Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.”

Wednesday 15 July 2020

It's The End Of Our World; Everything Is Possible

I have been involved with environmental and social justice movements for around fifty years.  I have been thinking of such issues and occasionally writing about them for almost as long.  Since starting this blogsite eight years ago, I have been thinking, researching, and writing about environmental and social issues consistently.

I am now perhaps more jubilant than I have been at any time in the past fifty years.  That sounds paradoxical when placed alongside the first part of the title for this blog – It’s the end of our world.  Note that the title says our world, not the world.

If the end of our world, our civilisation, seems imminent, or at least, plausible, then how is that I feel jubilant?

Fifty years ago as a youth and young man I was full of idealism, believing that we needed a different social system, one that respected other people and that also respected the environment.  To get to that utopian dream required dismantling the systems that stood in the way.

I, and many of my cohort, trod a path between a “smash the system” destructiveness and the hippie inspired universalism of “love is all you need.”  I believed it, I worked towards it.

Yet, what I was doing then (without realising it,) was simply participating in the same paradigm I was hoping to dismantle.  My destructive voice, based in part on my ego-driven anger and desire for revenge (or at least reprisal), only added to the fear, hate, distrust, and separateness of the system.  On the other hand, my adherence to a future of “flowers, beads, and love,” kept me disconnected from the earth and from other people.  Either way, I remained disconnected.  Either way, I was convinced that human agency was needed to bring about the change needed, and that what I (and others) did was the vehicle for that change.

I didn’t work. 

Now, fifty years later, the signs are clear.  Our industrial-fed, technologically-driven, patriarchally-stratified, and Eurocentric planetary system is under threat of imminent collapse.

And, I’m jubilant.

Nature is taking back control; a control we erroneously thought we had.  Nature is saying “enough is enough.”  Nature is smashing the system that we have imposed upon her.

Accepting that our (human) world is coming to an end, means that everything becomes possible.  When what we know no longer exists, then everything becomes thinkable.  We can rethink everything.

I can rethink everything from how I comb my hair (what’s left of it) to what choices I make to get myself from here to there. 

We, collectively, can rethink everything from how we transport ourselves (indeed, rethinking if we need to transport ourselves) through to how we go about making collective and social decisions (a.k.a. politics).

We can rethink that maybe instead of what we do being important, but that what we don’t do is more important.  We can rethink what it is that we must stop doing.

Hope and False Hope

To say that our world is ending sounds fatalistic, or at least as if I have given up hope.  However, as Paul Kingsnorth1 notes, it is not hope that is being given up, but false hope.  We have to stop deluding ourselves.  The environment within which our systems exist is collapsing, and we are running out of solutions to fix it. 

Solutions?  That may be the other hope we have to give up on.  As Rupert Read2 says, “Really facing up to climate reality means giving up all hope of solutions – without giving up on hope itself.”

I am hopeful.  I am jubilant.

1. Paul Kingsnorth is the co-founder of DarkMountain Project.
2. Rupert Read is an active member of Extinction Rebellion UK.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Collapsing Into Catastrophic Apocalypse

Graphic: Stanley Zimny at flickr
In This Civilisation Is Finished1 Samuel Alexander (Simplicity Institute) suggests that “crisis might be our best hope for disrupting the status quo and initiating the transition to something else.”  This prognosis is timely, given that we are on the brink (if not having already surpassed) a number of climate and other environmental tipping points.

Predictions and scenario settings for the future envisage a breakdown of environmental systems that lead inevitably to social collapse.  The outcome?  Apocalypse.

Yet, Alexander and his collaborator (Rupert Read from Extinction Rebellion) remain hopeful, or at least, not pessimistic.

Perhaps in a trio of words we use to describe the coming crisis lie the grounds for their sense of non-despair.  This trio are the words: catastrophe, apocalypse, and collapse.  The ancestry of these three words contain signposts for us to follow as we enter an uncertain future.

The words catastrophe and apocalypse both come to us from Greek.  Catastrophe is made up of the word kata meaning to go down, downwards and along.  The second Greek part, strephein, means to turn.  Thus, catastrophe has a sense of “to turn downwards and along,” as if we are metaphorically entering a cave and following it down and into the earth.

The association with sudden disaster is only some 250 – 300 years old.

Apocalypse, also Greek, begins with the prefix apo, meaning away from, or off.  The main part of the word is the Greek word kalyptein, which means to cover, conceal, or hide.

Hence, apocalypse, before it came to mean “an ending of times,” had the idea of uncovering, or revealing.  Indeed, during the Middle Ages, the word apocalypse meant insight, or a vision.  The association with devastation is only less than 200 years old.

The final word in our trio of words, collapse, is of Latin origin.  The prefix col is a form of the prefix com which we recognise in words such as community, commonwealth, and compassion.  As in these words, it means with or together.  The lapse part of the word we recognise in its own right, and comes from the Latin lapsus meaning to slip, fall, slide, or sink.

So, we can re-think collapse as falling, or sliding, together.

Now, let’s put all three words together.  The phrase collapse into catastrophic apocalypse can be re-framed as something that enables a way for us to proceed, although not necessarily in a comfortable manner.  The phrase could mean:

“Turning our attention towards the dark, underground space where our soul resides, and sliding into that space together, deliberately, and in that dark space uncovering and revealing our true selves, and our natural relationship with the earth.”

This is not a comfortable journey.  It will require radical honesty.  It will require a willingness to confront our hidden demons; those aspects of our psyche (individual and collective) that we might prefer remain hidden.  It will require a reappraisal of the autonomous ego.  It will mean healing our fractured selves, and it will mean re-establishing our niche in nature (as opposed to our present separateness).

The journey will necessitate risking all we think we know.  It will necessitate casting aide old habits, old behaviours, and old belief systems. 

It will mean letting go, and stepping into the unknown, into the abyss.

Are we willing to collapse into a catastrophic apocalyptic state?

Rupert Read & Samuel Alexander, This Civilisation Is Finished: Conversations on the end of Empire – and what lies beyond, Simplicity Institute, Melbourne, 2019.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Our Sacrificial Journey

Photo: Solveig Larsen

(A short bogpiece this week)

If our species is to survival its sojourn here on this planet then we will need to make some sacrifices.  Already there are indications that a number of environmental tipping points have already been surpassed, or at least are looming.

Furthermore, our efforts to reduce the likelihood of tipping into collapse are insufficient, too little, too late, and of an untenable kind.  We are putting our faith in technology and the possibility of new scientific breakthroughs.  More rooftop solar panels, shifting to hybrid cars, or carbon capture and storage technologies, will not prevent these tipping points being exceeded.

Nothing less than a dramatic reduction in consumption (primarily in the western-styled, rich, nations) will do it. 

We can’t afford to keep adding new technology.  We must stop what we are doing.

We must sacrifice.

But, I hear the shouts, that means giving something up, it means denying myself, it means going without.  It does mean that if that is the way that sacrifice is interpreted.  Our western-styled culture tells us that this is what sacrifice means. 

What if sacrifice means something different, what if the word (and the behaviour) is interpreted differently?  What if sacrifice suggested gaining something, finding something of worth?

Let’s break the word down.  Sacrifice comes to us via Latin and even further back.  The first half of the word has a meaning of; sanctify, set apart, holy.  The second part arrives from the Latin word facere, from which we get the verb to fashion, also meaning to make, to do.

Thus, when we peer into the fires that gave us this word, sacrifice means to fashion what is sacred, to make holy, to sanctify.

When we sacrifice with this understanding we come closer to our true selves, to who we really are.  Our sacrifice takes us on a journey towards our divine, towards a deeper connection with Mother Earth.

This is the sacrificial journey we must make.