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.

Monday 25 April 2022

Feeble Lies

George Herbert Meder 
(killed in action, Northern
France, 10 August 1917)
Today is ANZAC Day. The day commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps members who served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. April 25th is chosen because this was the date (in 1915) on which ANZAC forces landed on the beaches of Gallipoli in an attempt to open up access to the Black Sea. It was their first significant campaign of WW1.

Below I am posting a poem I wrote a few years ago, entitled For The Forlorn. Before doing so there are a few comments necessary. Some may read this as not showing respect or honour towards those who served. One of the most common phrases heard on ANZAC Day is, “We will remember them.” My great-uncle (George Herbert Meder) was killed by a sniper in Northern France – one of 62 members of the NZ Tunnelling Company to lose their lives in WW1. He was 29 years old, slightly older than the average age at which a soldier was killed in WW1 – 27 years. The most common age for a WW1 soldier to be killed was just 19 years. Nineteen years! – their lives were only just beginning. I am remembering my great-uncle and all those other young men and women who were killed – senselessly.

I am not the only one to speak of senselessness. Many of those who took part did so also. In fact, the very last veteran of WW1 to die (in 2009) said of the war that it was “nothing better than legalized mass murder.”1 You can’t get more senseless than that.

Remembering is like a coin that when it is taken out of a purse or wallet only one side is looked at – the side that reads “We will remember them.”

We need to turn the coin over and read what is on the obverse. We will Learn from this.

But, we have so little looked at, let alone read that side.

The title of this blogpiece (Feeble Lies) is a reference to the second line of the poem For The Forlorn. The word feeble means to be lacking in physical, moral, and/or intellectual strength or vigour. I use it to mean that the lies we are told about war are feeble – they lack moral and intellectual vigour. If we are to learn anything from WW1 (remember, it was supposed to be the war to end all wars) then let us learn the lies to begin with.

What are some of these lies? We are fortunate to have the words of some of the participants in WW1, who wrote poems, letters, and even novels about their experiences and their thoughts. I’ll pick out just a few.

Lie #1. Wilfred Owen served in WW1 and was killed in action just one week before the signing of the Armistice to end the conflict. He wrote many poems. His gripping poem Anthem for Doomed Youth asks, in its first line, “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” Doomed youth – cattle! That is how he, and others, came to think of themselves.

Lie #2. Owen’s friend, Siegfried Sassoon, met Owen at Craiglockhart Hospital, Scotland, where they both spent time recovering from shell-shock. Sassoon was awarded the Military Cross in 1916 (and later tossed the ribbon into the River Mersey). In 1917 he sent a letter to his Commanding Officer (which was subsequently read in Parliament) in which Sassoon claimed that the war was being “deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.”

Lie #3. The Welsh Christian pacifist Hedd Wyn did not enlist, but was conscripted to fight in WW1 and was killed at the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. One of his most famous poems is simply titled Rhyfel (War). The third stanza of that poem cries out: “Drowned by the anguish of the young/ Whose blood is mingled with the rain.” It is the young that are sent to war. It is the young who die.

The words don’t all come from just the Allied side either. The Germans too, had eloquent poets and novelists who voiced some of the feeble lies.

Lie #4. Perhaps best known is Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front.2 That novel includes many poignant quotes, one of which is:

“Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils just like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony – Forgive me comrade; how could you be my enemy?”

How indeed? The positing of the other as enemy is a lie.

Lie #5. Gerrit Engelke, like Wilfred Owen, was killed just days before the signing of the Armistice. Awarded the Iron Cross for bravery, one of his poems is dedicated To the Soldiers of the Great War.  He asks:

“Do you love a woman? So do I.

And have you a mother? A mother bore me.

What about your child? I too love children.

And the houses reek of cursing, praying, weeping.”

It is a lie to label the other side as evil, and “our” side as good.

So, yes, I am remembering. I wish to also remember the 286 young men imprisoned in New Zealand during WW1 because they objected to military service. I remember also that 28 New Zealand servicemen were sentenced to death for desertion (often suffering from shell-shock) during WW1. Five of them were shot, the others imprisoned or sent back to the front lines. In 2000 those five were offered a posthumous pardon by an Act of Parliament.

I also want us to learn.

Now, finally, for the poem – For The Forlorn

They went with songs to the battle, always the young

Straight from school, led to death by feeble lie

They were scared and frightened, names accounted

They fell with their faces condemned from high


They mingle now in mud and blood soaked trenches

They sit alongside fields in No Mans Lands

Many with uncle or cousin over there, locked in fear

Both sides ordered by older and unwise hands


They are never the young, those that plot grow old

Aged men decree and the young they do condemn

At the dropping of the bomb and whistling of the shell

We ought forgive them

Best we desist.


1. Harry Patch, the last veteran of WW1 to die, in 2009, died at the age of 111 years, 1 month, 1 week, and 1 day.

2. Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet On The Western Front, originally published 9 December 1928. It sold 2.5 million copies, in 22 languages, in just the first 18 months after publication.

Tuesday 19 April 2022

The Problem With Problems

There’s a problem with problems. The more we try to solve them or fix them, the more problems we create.

We seem to be fixated on fixing things. We have become so fixated with doing so, that sometimes we fix what “ain’t broke.”

I’ll use an example to illustrate this problem.

In 1973 Martin Cooper, who was working for Motorola, built the first cell phone. Ten years later the cell phone went commercial.

What problem was Cooper trying to fix? In an interview years later, he answered that by suggesting that the “old phones with wires” trapped people: “That’s not good,” he claimed. “We thought the time was ready for personal communication, because people are just naturally mobile,” he said.

Since then, cell phone ownership and usage has sky rocketed. This year it is expected that the number of people owning a mobile phone will reach 7.26 billion. In terms of the actual numbers of cell phones this only tells part of the story. Cell phones are replaced, on average, every three years. On billion new phones are shipped every year.

This “solution” however has spawned a number of problems. Here is a brief outline of some of those problems:

Cell phone addiction. This addiction even has a name – nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia), a word that did not exist prior to 2008. Nomophobia is the fear of being without one’s mobile phone. When we realise that mobile phone users receive more than four times as many messages and notifications today than a decade ago, and that three times as many texts are sent, it is easy to suggest that an addiction is in place.

Mobile phone addiction is implicated in: sleep deprivation and insomnia (because of the amount of night-time use, especially by teenagers,) lower concentration ability, creativity blockages, increased ADD, anxiety, reduced cognition, stress, loneliness, insecurity, impaired relationships, poor grades, and psychological disorders. There is also research showing a loss of brain grey matter, similar to substance use and addiction.

Reduced social interaction. Get on a commuter bus or train almost anywhere in the world and count the number of person-to-person social interactions there are. Most commuters will be glued to their mobile phone.

Depression and suicide. Both depression and suicide have been correlated with cell phone addiction.

Cyberbullying. Greater levels of cell phone use amongst teenagers correlate with a higher likelihood of being victims of, or perpetrators of, cyberbullying.

E-waste. In 2021 an estimated 57.4 million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally, with mobile phones making up a significant proportion of this. In the U.S. alone more than 150 million cell phones are discarded and end up in landfill. With the average cell phone being replaced every three years, this problem will only get worse.

Electricity Usage. The IT and communications sector currently consumes approximately 2% of the world’s total energy. Although each individual cell phone uses little electricity, when cell phone towers, networks that connect them, and data processing centres etc are factored in, the carbon footprint of cell phones is not insignificant.

Environmental consequences. A Smartphone is made of about 40% metal (mainly copper, gold, platinum, silver, and tungsten,) 40% plastic, and 20% ceramics and trace elements. Around 80% of the carbon footprint of a cell phone is generated in the mining and manufacturing stages. Plus, gold mining in the Amazon, for instance, is responsible for deforestation and the extraction process generates mercury and cyanide waste contaminating water and drinking sources. Coltan (columbite-tantalites, and important in the production of capacitors in cell phones) is mined in the Congo where it is traded by armed groups to finance civil war.

Dumbing down. I witness this often. A group of people talking, and a question is raised. Immediately someone will turn to their cell phone for the answer. Often it is the first link that is read out. We are being dumbed down by technology. Apparently, even the presence of your cell phone nearby can reduce your cognitive capacity.1 Furthermore, as Prof Mark Williams (a neuroscientist at Macquarie University) notes, “Information learnt on a digital device does not get retained very well and is not transferred to the real world.”

Problem Solving

So, what have all these problems left us with?

Parents, counsellors, and teachers all trying to solve the problem of teenage nomophobia, depression and thoughts of suicide.

Parents, teachers, and police trying to solve the problem of cyberbullying.

Counsellors, psychologists, and sociologists trying to solve the problem of social isolation.

Cities and municipalities trying to solve the problem of e-waste.

Environmentalists and governments trying to solve the problem of environmental destruction and increased electricity usage.

Everyone trying to solve the problem of carbon footprint.

Teachers and other educationalists trying to solve the problem of a population becoming cognitively deficient.

Just One Example

This is but one example of the problem with problems. Trying to fix them only leads to more, often worse, problems. Many times too, the original “problem” was not a problem at all. The “problem” is often nothing more than what Vanessa Machado de Oliveira cites as two of the six Cs of “ego-logical desires” of modernity – comfort and convenience.2 Surely, that is the case with cell phones. They were invented for our comfort and convenience, not because of any real problem.

Yet, this has happened time and time again. We “fix” something simply because it satisfies our ego’s desire for one or more of the six ego-logical desires.

We continue to do so. We want to fix problems. Yet, today, we are in a predicament. We cannot “fix” things.

Possibly the best we can do is to stop our fixation with fixing. Most likely we need to seriously consider our egotistical desire for the six Cs.

That is the problem we need to fix. Our own egos.


1. Ward, Duke, Greezy, Bos, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Vol 2, No. 2, April 2017, pp 140-154

2. The other Cs are: consumption, certainty, control, and coherence. See Vanessa Machado de Oliveira, Hospicing Modernity, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2021.

Wednesday 13 April 2022

How Many Times Have You Been Reincarnated?

How many times have you been reincarnated?

Only once some would say: we are born, we die – that’s it.

Others suggest that we experience past lives and so we have been reincarnated a number of times.

Still others propose that we live in a never-ending cycle of birth-rebirth-birth-rebirth…

All these answers have one thing in common. They assume a life that can be thought of, and conceived as – me, I, myself. A single human being; entire, complete, and - apart from the aging process - unchanging.

Yet, when we consider the make-up of our body, we are not unchanging, nor are we complete.

Our body is comprised of somewhere between 50 – 75 trillion cells.

These cells do not have a lifetime consistent with the lifetime of the being we think of as me. Skin cells, for example, are replaced every two to three weeks. Red blood cells last about four months. The cells lining our stomach are lucky to reach two days. They all get replaced however.

Not so brain cells. They do last our lifetime. At least those that last that long do so. Brain cells do die, but are not replaced.

All these cells are made of proteins, and those proteins in turn are the product of atoms.

We all know, roughly, what atoms are. The building blocks of everything is one way to conceive of them. The Periodic Table lists 118 elements, of which atoms are the basic ingredient.

Back to the Question

Back to our question: how many times have you been reincarnated?

If we consider all the elements and atoms that make up our body, then we could easily claim to have been reincarnated many many times over.

Just four elements - Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen – constitute around 96% of our body weight. The atoms of these elements have been around for billions of years.

The atoms of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen that make up our present-day body have been part of the Earth’s ecosystem for millennia. Perhaps millions of years ago, the atoms on the tip of your tongue may have been in a plant that was then eaten by a passing Stegosaurus. Maybe millions of years before that, the atoms lining your stomach lined the bottom of an ancient seabed.

Consider your breath. Perhaps some of the nitrogen or oxygen that you breath in right now once passed through the nostrils of Cleopatra or Genghis Khan.

We are being recycled, rejuvenated, revivified, and reincarnated continuously. We are part of an eternal cycle that includes animal, vegetable, and mineral.

We are part of everything. Everything is part of us. I am one with all. All is one with me.

It is a humbling thought, isn’t it?

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Getting Comfortable With Discomfort

The pandemic did it, didn’t it? Left us in a state of discomfort. Whether we agreed with the restrictions or did not, many of us felt a degree of discomfort.

We are going to feel discomfort moreso.

We may as well get comfortable with the feeling of discomfort.

The consequences of our (largely westernised) profligate lifestyles over the past few millennia (intensified since the Industrial Revolution) have started to become manifest.

We may not all be aware of the consequences, but they are present. More and more, these uncomfortable realisations are reaching a wider consciousness.

It’s like a ripple. An uncomfortable feeling may start out at some point in our cultural pond; but, because we are not near the source, we do not feel it. However, ripples have a habit of spreading, and eventually we will notice the ripples of discomfort no matter where we are in the pond.

Noticing the ripple, and feeling its effect upon us, is just the first step. Buddhism calls this the First Noble Truth.

The First Noble Truth (of four) is often translated as suffering in the English language. The Pali word dukkha has a larger meaning and includes such notions as uncomfortableness, unsatisfactoriness, unease, stress, or – discomfort.

If we are going to navigate through the social/environmental collapse that is upon is, then noticing the discomfort is the first thing we must get comfortable with.

It is worth looking more closely at the First Noble Truth. You could be forgiven to think that the word noble here refers to the truth. However, that too, is a poor understanding of the original Pali phrase.

In Pali the word ariya, translated as noble, refers not to the truths themselves, but to the knower of the truths. Noble has an etymological root in the word gno – meaning to know.

Thus, the original meaning of the First Noble Truth could be said to be: a person who understands, and has stepped into knowledge of, the truth of discomfort.

When we step into that knowledge, we begin to become comfortable in our discomfort. It is a start – there are three more Noble Truths to navigate.

So, let us not look out on the world with worry, despair, anxiety, depression, or anger. Let us face our discomfort. Let us explore it. What does it mean to be uncomfortable? What does discomfort truly feel like.

Only then will our discomfort become a noble truth.