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 30 September 2020

No Measure Of Health

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”1 This quote, attributed to

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)
Jiddu Krishnamurti, pithily states the Catch-22 state we find ourselves in.

Much of the helping/caring professions of western society are rife with people and practices that assist others to adjust to society, to fit into the norms and expectations of our culture.  To be well-adjusted is to be; obedient, status-driven, goal-oriented, productive, and primarily, a consuming member of society.

But, what if, as Krishnamurti suggests, society itself is sick?  What if our culture is unhealthy?  What if our ‘normal’ way of life is creating the very conditions in which individuals experience anxiety, depression, alienation, paranoia, and other ‘mental health’ issues?

What if ‘normal’ gives rise to alcoholism, gambling (and other addictions), domestic violence, homelessness, narcissism, and obesity – to name just a few means of coping in a sick society?

What if ‘normal’ means destroying our own nest?  Soil depletion, deforestation, water pollution, toxic waste, and species extinction are all examples of fouling our own nest.

The more we look around us – at individual, social, and global scales – the less we are able to claim that we live in a healthy society.

Bill Plotkin has a rather caustic term for our society – Patho-Adolescent he calls it.  However, unlike many within the caring/helping professions, Plotkin maps out a process for attaining individual and social health.2

The process/journey is not an easy one.  Raising healthy children into healthy adulthood and thence to elderhood is far from straight-forward in an unhealthy society.

Re-establishing a healthy society is unlikely to be brought about by unhealthy individuals.


The journey must entail both personal and cultural work.  It is of little value joining a march or rally, or signing petitions, if there is no commitment to undergoing personal work on the self.

Similarly, it is of little value spending one’s hours on a meditation cushion, or attending personal growth retreats if no work is being done to help transform the cultural-social milieu.

Both forms of work are necessary, and neither is pre-eminent.  There is no need to wait until my personal development work is complete (it never is) before embarking on cultural transformation.  Nor can one afford to wait until the social setting has been transformed (it never is) before healing oneself.

Returning to the Krishnamurti quote that began this blogpiece.  It is also of little value helping others adapt or adjust to society if no attempt is made to at least challenge the society in which the person acquired their addiction, anxiety, depression …

Yes, it is not an easy journey.  However, it is a doable journey; it is also a rewarding one.


1. Although attributed to Krishnamurti, I have been unable to locate the source, except in a reference in a book by Mark Vonnegut (son of the author Kurt Vonnegut) – The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, 1975.

2. See especially: Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, New World Library, Novato, California, 2008.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Mother Nature On The Run

Fifty years ago this week Neil Young released his classic album After The Goldrush.  The lyrics of the
title track include these prescient lines:

“Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the Nineteen-seventies.”

Once the millennium ticked over and we moved into the next century, Young updated that lyric and it became:

Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the Twenty-first century.”

Mother Nature has been on the run from humans for many years.  During the seventies she had to increase the pace.  Now, fifty years later, Mother Nature is sprinting, and she is losing the race.

Over the past fifty years the world’s wildlife population has declined by almost 70%.  Species are becoming extinct at a rate between 100 and 1000 times the natural background rate – because of human activity.

The first human made plastic was demonstrated at the International Exhibition in London in 1862 (just 160 years ago).  In 1970 less than 50 million tonnes of plastic was produced world-wide.  Fifty years later we produce over 400 million tonnes, much of it ending up in the world’s oceans.  It is estimated that ninety percent of all plastic produced ends up as waste.

Approximately one-fifth of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in the past fifty years.

More than one-third of the world’s arable land has been lost since 1970.  Human activity has increased erosion by 10 – 50 times the usual rate through our agricultural activities, deforestation, urbanisation, transport infrastructure, and climate change.

Mother Nature is losing the race.  She is exhausted.

Humans have chased her down, cut down her trees, slaughtered her fauna, decimated her flora, and poisoned her with waste.

We have also captured her, tamed her, and put her in a cage.  Nowadays it is possible to download an app of nature sounds to your phone,1 or watch and listen to a video of a gentling flowing stream, or rustling leaves on your laptop.

Isn’t it time we stopped chasing Mother Nature?  Isn’t it time we stopped the race?  Isn’t it time we let Mother Nature out of the cage, and let her return to the wild?  Isn’t it time we helped Mother Nature heal and recover?

Isn’t it time we realised that we are racing the race against ourselves?


1. A google search for “nature sound app” returned 167 million hits. Roughly the number of trees cut down every week or two.(accessed 22 September 2020) 

Tuesday 15 September 2020

The Courage To Change

Sometime in the early 1930s Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a prayer, the first verse of which has come to be

Reinhold Niebuhr
known as the Serenity Prayer.  Niebuhr wrote:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Although Niebuhr’s prayer is couched in theological terms, the sentiment could easily help us clarify our social justice actions.

When I - a white, older-aged, male, residing in one of the world richest nations – consider what things I can change, these come to mind.

Racism is predominantly a system and a structure of providing white people benefits within society and largely excluding those of dark skin.  It has been built on the back of (often) brutal colonisation and a Eurocentric sense of superiority.  My ethnic background and heritage place me squarely in the position of being able to do something about that – to change it.

My age (I was born in the 1950s) means that I have grown up in an age of plenty, an age of exploitation of the earth, an age of increasing individualisation and entitlement.  When I look around at my cohort today I see little has changed.  My peers are still approaching the earth as if it is a big playground.  Meanwhile, the future of younger generations is being stolen from them, and the memory of past generations is being forgotten or placed in museums.  My age enables me to work to change this.

Sexism and misogyny are the outcome of a system that is patriarchal in nature.  Patriarchy is dominated by male thought, by male values, by male attitudes.  Those values and attitudes have: seen domestic abuse and violence at high levels, maintained an economic imbalance between the sexes, plundered the earth, given rise to authoritarianism, and even exploited some men (particularly gay men, black men, boys.)  As a man I have a responsibility to change this.

Inequality of wealth and income is one of the drivers of so many social ills.  Poverty, malnutrition, lack of access to clean water, homelessness, displaced peoples and migrants, various addictions, and poor health, can all be attributed to inequality.  In 2019 there were 2,153 billionaires (less than the number needed to fill the average cruise ship), yet these billionaires had more wealth than 4.6 billion people (60% of the world's population.)  The 22 richest men in the world own more wealth than all the women in Africa.1  Even I (who have an income that is just a little above the Australian official poverty level) am wealthier than almost 90% of the world’s people.  As a resident of a rich nation I can do something to help change this.

There are many things in the world that I have little, or no, ability to change, even though I may find them disturbing, unjustified, or oppressive.  However, those I have just outlined I do have the ability to change, because I live within each of those enclaves and am supported by and benefit from them.  And that is where Niebuhr calls us to courage.

It is far more courageous to look at the systems I am part of and seek to change from within, than it is to point the finger elsewhere and say “you have to change.”

What if look but don’t see?

I suggest there is one more line to add to Niebuhr’s prayer.

The humility to listen to those in pain and suffering.


1. Statistics from:  Oxfam International, Time To Care: Unpaid and underpaid care work in the global inequality crisis, January 2020.

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Will The Last Human Plant A Tree?

There is an Indian saying: “Blessed is the one who plants trees under whose shade they will never sit.”

If we stop long enough to listen to the earth we will hear the sounds of hundreds upon hundreds of trees being felled every minute.  We will hear the sounds of birds bemoaning their lack of habitat.  We will hear Mother Earth herself cry out in pain as she is cut into with rock-crushing machinery.

And if we take the time to read the research then we will realise that we are in what has been termed the “Sixth Extinction.”  The fifth extinction took place approximately 65 million years ago, famously wiping out the dinosaurs and killed around half of all life on the planet.  The extinction period is considered to have lasted between 1 and 2 ½ million years.  Famously, it is also thought to have been caused by an external event – the impact of a meteor up to 80km in diameter and delivering an energy equivalent to 21 – 960 billion Hiroshima sized bombs.

The Sixth Extinction could take much less than this amount of time, and without such a massive fireball of energy.  It just requires us humans continuing to do what we are doing.

Over the course of the past century or two our impact upon the earth has been to increase the background extinction rate by 100 – 1,000 times the usual rate.  Yet, if we look at the list of those species that have already gone extinct, and if we consider the extinction list of species that will become extinct, we often miss noticing one particular species on that list.  Homo sapiens.  Us, yes, we humans are on that list of species likely to become extinct.

It is a distinct possibility.  Many of earths climatic and biodiversity tipping points have been reached, and some possibly already triggered.  Once these tipping points are triggered then a cascade of tipping points will be triggered.  That means one thing.

No matter what we do there will be nothing we can do to control the runaway.

We have no solutions.

We have no hope.

Pessimistic?  Hopeless?  Despairing?  Apocalyptic?  Doomsday?  Maybe, maybe not.

What do we do?  First, continuing our destructive, affluent, mindless, exploitative lifestyles cannot continue.  We must stop.

Then, when we stop, we will perhaps discover that there is a grief in our knowledge.  This is to be expected, for “grief is a way of loving what has slipped from view.  Love is a way of grieving that which has not yet done so.”1   Stephen Jenkinson eloquently reminds us that grief and love are intimately entwined.   

Stephen Jenkinson is a Canadian and one of his compatriots, Leonard Cohen, made a prescient observation in his song Boogie Street, when he sang:

“It was in love that we are made,

In love we disappear.”2

We could turn our disappearing - our extinction – into a time to rediscover and re-connect with the noble aspects of our humanity: love, compassion, kindness, empathy. 

Am I suggesting giving up hope?  Yes, for hope is a hopeless cause (if you’ll excuse the quip.) 

I am however, suggesting we act as if our grief and our love (for ourselves, for others, for the planet) are real and palpable. 

So, when the last human is about to die, will they plant a tree?


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

2.  2. Leonard Cohen, Boogie Street, on the album Ten New Songs, Columbia, 2001.

Wednesday 2 September 2020

Lessons From Orienteering

We’ve lost our way.  All over the world we seem to be lost, or at least, confused about where to go and

how to get there.  We may even be uncertain how we got to where we are.

If we are looking for a world of greater biodiversity, peacefulness, and racial and sexual egalitarianism, then we have lost our way.  If we are searching for a world where all have their nutritional needs met, where access to clean water is available to all, and where we can ensure that future generations will be able to appreciate beauty, then we have lost our way.

We’ve lost sight of our social and environmental goals and are fumbling around trying to find our way back on track.  We’re going round and round in circles, following our own tracks, and repeating the same errors time and time again.

Orienteers know this scenario well.  Heading towards a defined point on a map an orienteer may suddenly find themselves unsure where they are.  What to do?  First – don’t panic.  Orienteers learn to re-locate.  Orienteers learn how to re-locate themselves on the map.

Two re-location techniques are: 1. Go back to where you last knew where you were, and 2. Find a high point and gain a wider point of view.  Both techniques may be of use to us in re-locating ourselves and finding our way back on track towards our social and environmental goals.

Go Back

Oftentimes one is confronted with the refrain that “we can’t go back.”  In terms of our technological inventions that may be true (or, may not.)  However, to “go back” in terms of our technology limits our thinking to one simply of utility.  We can go back to a former way of thinking; a form of thinking that those of us in western-styled culture have lost.  We can go back to a thinking that recognises that we are part of nature, not separate from nature.  We can go back to a thinking that understands community, cooperation, and mutuality.  We can go back to a thinking that realises that what we do has consequences.  We can go back to a thinking that admits to limits and concedes when enough is enough.

Gain A Higher Ground

When we get to higher ground we gain an overview, a wider picture.  We begin to see how things are inter-related.  We may even see, if we’re lucky, where we just were and where we need to get to, or at least, a prominent feature along the way.

When we take an overview in terms of our social and environmental goals we come to understand that all aspects of life are connected and inter-related.  We come to understand that the healing of the planet, the healing of our social relationships, and the healing of ourselves are all part of the same work.  Woking to save the planet is doomed if not connected to healing our damaged communities, and neither are obtainable if we do not heal our fractured selves.

Someone once said, “If you want to change anything, start everywhere.  If you want to change everything, start anywhere.”  When we gain higher ground and see the bigger picture, the veracity of that statement becomes unambiguous.

It’s Not Easy Going

Going back to a previous way of thinking, or taking a wider perspective does not, however, guarantee that the way ahead is any easier, or clearer.  The terrain is complex and simple solutions do not present themselves easily.

But, re-locating ourselves may be just what we need to do instead of blithely and furiously charging ahead with no idea of where we are headed, or where we have come from.