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 24 November 2021

Don't Resist - Desist

Carl Jung
Those seeking change have, for centuries, resisted the incumbent and prevailing order. All too often this has resulted in little, if any, real change. Sometimes, all that changes are the players, leaving the system itself largely intact.

The reasons for this are many. This blogpiece does not have the space to enter into a full analysis, nor even offer a complete alternative.  What it does do, however, is to pose a question that social change activists may like to consider.

One of the greatest psychologists of the 20th century, Carl Jung, offered this insight:

“What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”

Although Jung’s primary work was at an individual level, he was also a shrewd observer of cultural behaviour. He recognised that patterns within individuals are repeated within the wider society – each helping to create the other.

Jung wasn’t the only one to recognise the mutually enlarging relationship between resistance and persistence. We can see a similar concept in Isaac Newton’s famous third law of motion. Often cited simply as action-reaction, this law tells us that when two objects exert a force on each other, then the forces are equal in magnitude, and opposite in direction. Simply put, this suggests that when one object exerts a greater force, then the other object will react by increasing its own force. What one resists, the other persists.

The same is true in our social and cultural settings. An action stimulates a reaction, which then becomes the stimulus for a further reaction.

Certainly, there are things that we must have the courage to say ‘No’ to – racism and sexism are two of the most obvious and blatant.

However, attempting to build an entire alternative system around saying ‘No’ is bound to end in tears, mistrust, and failure.

We may be better to move from a resisting modality to one of desisting. Similarly sounding words, yet a peek into their etymology gives us insight into their quite different qualities. Both receive their verb from Latin – sistere, meaning to stand, or stand firm.

Often the prefix re suggests a going back, or again. It also, as it does here in the word resist, means against (as in opposition to). Hence, resist literally means ‘to stand in opposition to, stand against.’ The word has an obvious oppositional, almost antagonistic, flavour.

What about the word desist? The same verb, i.e., to stand. The prefix de however, gives the word a much different flavour. De is also of Latin derivation and means away from, down from, or off. The word desist then, has the sense of standing away from, or standing apart from.

Quite a different flavour. There is no sense of opposition, yet it retains the sense of firmness, steadiness, and taking a stand. The difference is that one stands in opposition to something, the other stands apart from, standing firm elsewhere. It stands on its own merit, and stands in its own authorship and integrity.

This leads to the question that was foreshadowed at the beginning of this blog.

What would happen if social change movements shifted from resisting to desisting? What if, instead of trying to resist and fight against the system, the system was ignored and by-passed with effort going instead into creating a new system?

What if, instead of buying into systems, we simply stopped purchasing from them? What if we desisted from our consumer role, and became engaged, interactive, and communal citizens?

This is exactly what Buckminster Fuller was advocating, when he advised that:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Not only is Bucky’s advice likely to be more effectual, just think of the effort and time not wasted on resisting and trying to change a system that is reluctant to change.

Think too, of the amount of angst, anger, disappointment, and torment that could be averted.

If the efforts that go into resisting were instead channelled into desisting, then just imagine the creative opportunities that could emerge.

Is it too late to stop resisting? Is it too late to stand aside from the life-destroying systems that surround us?

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Bewilderment (Book Review)

Bewilderment1 picks up a theme explored exceptionally well in Richard Powers critically acclaimed 2018 novel, Overstory. Where Overstory told the story of human-nature disconnection mostly from the point of view of nature, Bewilderment explores that disconnection through the eyes of two living, and one dead, human.

Theo Byrne is an astrobiologist wondering about how life may have evolved on other planets. His nine-year old son, Robin, is simply wondering. Yet, his wonderings are profound, and because of this, is ostracised by his classmates.  Alyssa, Theo’s wife and Robin’s mother, who died in an accident, was a lawyer/advocate working with animal-rights NGOs.

The novel is full of irony. Theo is busy looking for life on exo-planets. Meanwhile, Robin is attempting to draw and paint every endangered species in America.

Theo is told by a psychologist that Robin is ‘on the spectrum,’ prompting Theo to respond that we are all on the spectrum – that’s what life is: a spectrum. Theo also wonders why it is that the zealous desire to diagnose psychiatric disorder is not itself a psychiatric disorder.

Powers narrative asks us to view the natural world through the eyes of a nine-year old, and to ask questions that only nine-year-olds seem capable of asking. Bewildering questions.

Together, Theo and Robin, grapple with, and meditate upon Fermi’s Paradox. Named after the nuclear physicist, Enrico Fermi, the paradox asks, ‘where is everybody?’ If the cosmos is full of trillions upon trillions of galaxies, stars, and planets, then life elsewhere must be in abundance, yet there is no evidence. Many explanations for the paradox have been put forward, and Powers skilfully weaves these into the conversations between astrobiologist father and quizzical son.

‘Where is everybody?’ is but one of the bewildering questions explored in Powers’ novel. Thankfully, Powers does not try to answer them, allowing (almost forcing) us, as reader, to ponder the questions for ourselves. Indeed, further, the questions compel those of us who are older to ask, as Theo does; ‘…ten thousand children with Robin’s new eyes might teach us how to live on Earth.’

Indeed, currently on Earth, it is the young people who are asking the pertinent questions, and who are seeing the world through new eyes. Instead of ignoring them or criticising them, we (the older generation) might rather co-explore (as Theo and Robin do) with younger people what these questions mean.

Look up bewilderment in a modern dictionary, and you will get a definition something like this: the feeling associated with being perplexed, confused, baffled. Yes, there are instances of this feeling in Powers’ novel.

However, I suspect that Powers would like us to question where the word bewilderment comes from, and whether it might have something for us to consider in todays world. The preposition be in Old English had the sense of intensifying the verb following. Be can be thought of as making thorough, or complete.  The verb, wilder, has strong connections to the noun wild, and means lead astray, to lure into the wilds. Thus, a thorough understanding of bewilderment takes us to a thorough immersion into the wilds of nature.

Perhaps this is the sense in which Powers has used Bewilderment for his novel’s title? If so, then pondering its full meaning, we might glimpse some answers.

Bewilderment is an easy-to-read book, deceptively simple in its storyline, yet full of bewilderment.


1. Richard Powers, Bewilderment, Hutchinson Heinemann, London, 2021.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

The Accusing Finger

I recently broke my collarbone, and so writing is a little painful. Thus, I have kept this week’s blog short. It is a simple quatrain.

I have noticed an increase in blaming, finger pointing, toxic individuality, and lack of responsibility over the past few years. This quatrain refers to that. With apologies to Omar Khayyám.1

The accusing finger points; and having pointed

Stays put: nor all thy vain glory, nor thy hubris

Shall straighten it for thee to see

Nor all thy scorn shall understand e’en a grain of this.


1. Omar Khayyám (1048 – 1131) was a mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and poet. He is best known for his quatrains translated into English as The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyáam, by Edward Fitzgerald in the mid-1800s.

Wednesday 3 November 2021

What Is Adolescence For?

Adolescence. What is it? Why does it exist? And, why is it so long? Furthermore, how is it that most adults still seem to be stuck in some sort of adolescent time-warp?

This blog will not pretend to have the answers to these questions. However, the questions must be raised, because we do not seem to have adequate answers to them currently. Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions.

The term adolescence is quite recent within our vocabulary. It was coined by the American psychologist, G Stanley Hall, in his 1904 book Adolescence. Hall recognised that the period of adolescence in the human species was far longer than for any other primate. He theorised that there must be a reason for this, and that if we properly understood the purpose and nature of adolescence then the human race could develop its evolutionary potential.

Where Hall, however, was steeped in his (European) culture of the time, later psychologists have come to explore further the basis of adolescence. In particular, eco-psychologists have recognised that adolescence is largely wasted on the human race. We are not utilising the great gift that this period of life is pregnant with.

Instead, adolescent boys and girls are trussed up in a school environment most of each day, for five days a week. The learning offered there is primarily geared towards producing “good” adults – adults that will consume and obey. Adults who have suppressed their imaginative qualities, and are not longer able to co-create a world in which will live harmoniously as part of nature.

In such a rigidly controlled adolescence it is little wonder that the only two, major, possibilities are: conform or rebel.

Sadly, adults (raised in similar systems) will listen (if any listening is done at all) to those adolescents who conform. Those who rebel are labelled as non-conformists (at best) or “angry young people who need to grow up.”

Eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin, however, paints an entirely different picture of adolescence. Far from adolescence being a training ground for adulthood, Plotkin says that:

“With the onset of adolescence, the individual becomes the social explorer who must learn the art of making his or her way in the world without the shield of their immediate family… It is time to push the limits, try out new social powers, see where and how one fits.” 1

Plotkin calls this the time of the Thespian. Today, we think of a thespian as being a Shakespearian actor. Whilst partially true, the first Thespian, Thespis, was a Greek dramatist from the 6th century BC who performed all the parts within his dramas by himself. To do so, he had to become adept at changing roles, swapping masks, and donning different costumes.

Plotkin has chosen an excellent archetype for the adolescent in that of the Thespian. It is a time for acting out different roles, trying on different masks, and donning different costumes (perhaps the only one of these three aspects that is reluctantly accepted by adults.)

What sort of adults would emerge from this form of adolescence were such a Thespian drama be allowed to flow, and furthermore, actively encouraged by adults and elders alike?

In today’s world we still hear young people venting their anger at the world of those of so-called adulthood. (Witness the current expressions of anger and frustration by young people at COP26 in Glasgow.)

Telling young people to stop, to go back to school, to grow up, is not going to help. Adults and elders need to listen to the fire of youth.

Socially, we also need to ask deep questions about what is adolescence, what is it for?

Perhaps, before adults and elders are able to stop and listen, before we (I place myself in that older age group) can even ask the questions, we need to go back and experience a true adolescence for ourselves.

As I indicated at the beginning of this blogpiece, there are no answers here. Just questions. They are questions that we must ask. I suspect the answers will not come easily, and they will not be without pain and surprise.

Let’s all become Thespians for once in our lives – no matter what age we are.


1. Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul, New World Library, Novato, California, 2008, p174