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 August 2020


The past few months have brought us not only pandemic but also a large degree of pandemonium.

In that time I have read, and listened to, politicians, experts, and friends telling me their thoughts, ideas, and mostly, their “knowledge.”  Some tell me Covid-19 is a deadly virus and we need to lock-down, keep our physical distance, wear a mask, and listen to experts and authorities.  Others tell me it is all a hoax, or at least not as harmful as we are told.  Still others tell me that the reaction from authorities is an over-reaction and that personal and individual liberties are under threat.

I do not wish to enter into a never-ending, continuous cycle of claim, counter-claim and ultimately futile conversation.  I acknowledge I have no knowledge, no background study or education, in any of this.  Hence, I can offer no opinion on the rights/wrongs of the measures taking place.  I do, however, know how I can act in the world at this time. 

Thinking of how to act I arrived at this C.O.V.I.D. attitude and understanding:

C is for Compassion.  There has been a lot of anger, blame-gaming, and name-calling by many on all sides during this time.  Compassion allows me to step back from these cul-de-sacs and allow me to have compassion for those who have had loved ones die.  I can find compassion for those embroiled in accusations and counter-accusations.  Furthermore, I have compassion for myself, for my own fears, uncertainties, and weariness.

O is for Observing, especially observing emotional responses.  I notice in others, and in myself, that many of our emotional responses arise from a place of fear.  For some it is a fear of illness or even death – of themselves or a loved one.  For some it is a fear of loss of work and hence, loss of income.  Yet others fear the loss of personal, or individual, liberty.  I can observe all of these fears arising in my own reactions and thoughts.

V is for Valuing each moment.  When I meditate, or remind myself of the practice of Mindfulness, my emotional state shifts towards ease and I can enter a zone of contentment, accepting what is without judgment.  Valuing each moment allows me to be present with my own feelings and also present to the particular engagements I may have with others from moment to moment.

I is for Inter-being.  Inter-being is a term coined by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who (with a nod to Descartes) expresses it as: “I am, therefore you are.  You are, therefore I am.  We inter-are.”  When I try to fully understand this, it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to point fingers, name-call, or describe others as fools or idiots, meanwhile suggesting a woke1 attribution to myself and those who think like me.  Furthermore, the notion of inter-being does not stop with humanity; it extends to the whole planetary system.  Thus, the ways in which we have treated (mis-treated is more apt) nature has profound repercussions for us.  We cannot isolate ourselves from nature, and in our attempt to do so (an enterprise we have been on for centuries) we disrupt the intricate networks so much that something, somewhere, is going to give.  Now that it has – we don’t like it.  (I’ll just leave that last sentence hanging.)

D is for Death.  Stephen Jenkinson2 describes our western-styled culture as “…death-phobic and grief-illiterate.”   Death-phobia leads to death-denial and death-fearing.  We do all in our power to put off death and keep living, even if by keeping living we are no longer living.  Yet, as we know, and Buddhism reminds us, everything is impermanent.  Everything passes.  Yet, our aversion to death ironically means we approach life with impunity.  Perversely, our refusal to face death means we fail to live life fully.  Covid-19 brings us, if we are willing to allow it, face-to-face with our mortality.  And, being grief-illiterate we fail to recognise the love that is part and parcel of grief, slipping more easily into anger or despair.

Each of these five actions/attitudes are inter-connected, and the reader should treat them that way.  In doing so, you will discover your own meanings and connections.

For me, these five interconnected attitudes allow me to act in the world during a time of chaos, misunderstandings, confusion, and doubts.  Ultimately, how I act is of far more importance than my opinion on the rights and wrongs of the debates on Covid-19.


1.     Woke is a term borrowed – or stolen – from the Black Lives Matter movement, and essentially means to have an awareness of racial and social justice issues

2.     Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2015

Thursday 20 August 2020

Have We Begun To Retrace Our Steps?

This time last year we had already overshot our yearly carrying capacity by three weeks.  This

year (2020) Earth Overshoot Day is on 22 August – last year it was 29 July.

That means that on 22 August this year we will have globally consumed and wasted more of the earth’s biological carrying capacity than is available for a whole year.

But, it comes three weeks later this year.  This is a welcome shift.

Overshoot Day is calculated using two factors.  Our Ecological Footprint, and the Earth’s Biocapacity.  Ecological Footprint is how much biological productive area it takes to provide for the demands of all people.  Biocapacity is the capacity of Earth to provide for these demands plus absorb the waste we create.  Since the late 1960s our Ecological Footprint has consistently been greater than the earth’s biocapacity.  That is unsustainable.  That is untenable.

An analogy may help.  Suppose you begin with $1,000.  Each year you spend $1,100 and you get back $1,000.  So, you begin the next year with $1,000, but owing $100 from the previous year.  So, you effectively begin with $900.  Suppose you continue spending at the rate of $1,100 each year, and get back $1,000.  Then, simple arithmetic tells you that you are steadily reducing your capital.  You could, if you wished, calculate the date on each year when you have spent more than you began the year with.  That is Earth Overshoot Day.

But, this year, we put back the date of Overshoot by three weeks.  This is the greatest “recovery” we have made since Earth Overshoot Day was first calculated, in the 1960s.  The last time Overshoot Day was at this time of the year was in 2005 – fifteen years ago!

How?  The simple answer is covid-19.  During this pandemic we consumed less, we travelled less, we used less energy, and we chopped down fewer trees.  The biocapacity of Earth did not increase, our global footprint decreased - by 9.3% according to one estimate.1

So, have we turned the corner and begun a journey of recovery and healing?

Before we get to complacent, it pays to delve further into the idea of overshoot.  August 22nd is the day on which Earth as a whole overshoots its biocapacity limit.  Many countries consume at such a level that overshoot day arrives much earlier in the year.  For the USA, Canada, Australia, and UAE overshoot is in March.  The Scandinavian nations overshoot between late March and the middle of April.  Europeans overshoot in April and May.  New Zealand and Japan do so in May also.  China overshoots in June.

At the other end of the scale, nations such as Indonesia, Ecuador, Iraq, Nicaragua, and Cuba all overshoot in early to mid-December.  A few almost manage to live within the biocapacity of the earth; for example, Kyrgyzstan (26th December), Myanmar (25th December), and Niger (25th December.)

The conclusion is obvious.  If we wish to reduce our ecological footprint so that we do not overstep our biocapacity then it is the rich nations of the world that are going to have to make the crucial, and larger, steps.

We’ve made a start - three weeks worth.

Are these the first steps on a road to living within our means?  Will we keep making such important steps next year? 


1ht1.  accessed 20 August 2020

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Sand Talk (A Review)

I acknowledge the ancestors of this mighty land, called Australia by the colonisers.  I pay my respects to the elders past and present and the emerging leaders of the future.  The ancestors of this land have cared for and formed deep relationships with this land for many many thousands of years.

Tyson Yunkaporta belongs to the Apalech Clan from Western Cape York, and is a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University.  His recently published book, Sand Talk,1 draws on the knowledge and traditions of those ancestors, elders, and emerging leaders, to expose global (primarily western) ways of thinking to a lens of Indigenous Knowledge.  Without saying so directly, Yunkaporta finds western knowledge systems lacking.

It doesn’t take much looking around to agree with him.  The world is in a mess and that is largely because of western thinking.  But, don’t read this book to discover the jewels or nuggets that exist in Indigenous Knowledge that can be used to save the world (as the sub-title suggests.)  Yunkaporta warns that using Indigenous Knowledge in this way has for centuries been how western colonisers have treated such knowledge.  Colonisers have plundered and stolen knowledge and used it (often in ways it is not meant to be) to further the exploitative and destructive process of colonisation.

Yunkaporta would prefer that non-Indigenous peoples acknowledged and learnt from the processes of Indigenous Thinking.  And here is where this book is of profound importance – it sheds a light on the different thinking processes used by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to arrive at Knowledge.

Indeed, Yunkaporta goes further.  He insists that non-Indigenous people do not need to acquire Indigenous Knowledge, but rather, need assistance in remembering our own thinking processes.  He is right.  We do have thinking and knowledge systems based in patterns, holism, and complexity.  We have forgotten them, or have had them stolen from us.  Yunkaporta reminds us to go look for them again.

Yunkaporta uses the customary technique of drawing images in sand to illustrate and assist in passing on knowledge.  Each chapter uses a sand drawing for this purpose, as well as a yarn2 with many Aboriginal people to add to Yunkaporta’s own ideas and thoughts.  These techniques give this book a holistic and grounded feeling.  A sense of ancient wisdom comes through in the images, the yarns, and almost every sentence of the book.

For readers of this blog who, like me, come from a western-styled, non-Indigenous, culture, this book can be challenging.  Not in a linguistic sense – Yunkaporta has a very engaging writing style – but in the ideas presented, especially as the ideas challenge many of the fundamental thinking patterns we have been taught.  So, if you find you have to stop, go back, and re-read sections (as I did) then don’t get disparaged.  Stop, go back, re-read.

Perhaps the most challenging thinking process presented within the book comes just four pages before the end.  In one of his yarns he quotes an Aboriginal woman who describes a way of thinking that begins with Respect, followed on by Connect, then Reflect, and ends with Direct.  She insists on this being the appropriate order and then notes that “non-Aboriginal people seemed to work through the same steps but in reverse.”

Think about that.  It is appropriate that this comes almost as the final comment, as in many ways it sums up the whole book. 

For non-Aboriginal people this is an engaging and challenging book, one that should be read by all.


1.     1. Tyson Yunkaporta, sand talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, Text Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, 2019.

2.     2. English speakers will recognise the noun yarn as meaning a story or tale.  In Australia, and particularly so within Aboriginal settings, the word has become a verb also, as in to tell a story, to talk.

Thursday 6 August 2020

Atomic Diamond

Today is a Diamond Anniversary.  75 years ago today (6 August 2020) the first atomic bomb was used as a weapon, with the Japanese city of Hiroshima the target.  Only once since then has the atomic bomb again been used as a weapon – just three days later on another Japanese city, Nagasaki.  Estimates of the numbers killed vary, but 200,000 plus seems likely.

Over the following fifty years more than 2,000 atomic bomb tests were conducted in various sites around the world.  In those fifty years the US alone spent at least $5 trillion on nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons related programs.1

Although the numbers of nuclear warheads have been reduced from the height of almost 65,000 in 1986, there are still 13,400 nuclear weapons stockpiled around the world – 90% of them in the hands of the US and Russia.

Spending on nuclear weapons has been exorbitant, yet it’s set to increase.  The US budget this year announced a strategy to replace nearly the entire US nuclear arsenal, at a cost of $44.5 billion for 2021, and increase of 19% from 2020.  From now until 2050 this program is expected to cost over $1.5 trillion, and may be as high as $2 trillion.

Globally, the amount spent on nuclear weapons in 2019 was $72.9 billion, up $7.1 billion from the previous year.  Nuclear weapons spending is enormous, getting bigger, and blatantly immoral.

The costs are significant.  The two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed 200,000 people; the moneys spent on nuclear weapons today just as effectually kill millions today.  Consider these estimates:

·       In the world today 2.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.

·       It is estimated that $150 billion per year would be needed to provide clean safe water for everyone on the planet.

·       2 billion people throughout the world (mostly in Africa) do not have sufficient, healthy food.

·       It is estimated to cost between $7 billion and $265 billion per year to end world hunger.

75 years – a Diamond Anniversary?  Hardly.  Unless the diamond is used to cut through the immorality of it all and shine a light on a peaceful world.


1. In case that number is difficult to get your head around, try this.  Suppose that $1 is represented by 1 second of time.  Then $1 million (1 million seconds) is approximately 11 ½ days.  $1 billion is equivalent to 31.7 years, and $1 trillion to 31,700 years, so $5 trillion can be represented as 158,500 years!!  (And $1 million seems a lot)