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 28 June 2023

Living In The Time Of Dying (Film Review)

‘Our world is trembling.’ These are the first words spoken in Michael Shaw’s film-doco Living in the Time of Dying.

With a title like that and with this as an opening line you might expect this film to be full of despair, doom, and hopelessness. But, it isn’t. It might be a stretch to say it is a joyful or happy film, yet there are glimpses of such feelings throughout the film.

One overriding emotion that does frequently arise is that of love.

Michael Shaw is an Australian filmmaker who, in order to make this film, sold his house and spent most of 2019 researching and interviewing four remarkable people for this film.

Catherine Ingram is a teacher of meditation and Buddhism. It is her words and voice that begin the film. She is well known as the author of Facing Extinction,1 originally written in 2019 and updated in 2021 during coronavirus.

Dahr Jamail is an American journalist who has received awards for his writing about Iraq. However, it his book The End of Ice that is the reason for Shaw’s interest in interviewing him.

Jem Bendell, best known for his 2018 paper Deep Adaptation,2 is Professor of Sustainability at Cumbria University. His paper has been downloaded more than one million times.

Stan Rushworth is a Cherokee elder and citizen of Chiricahua Apache Nation – an honour Stan says that cannot be refused, nor can it be requested – ‘it is a gift’ he says. He is the author of four books.

All four of these people bring a different, yet complementary, perspective to the topics of, social/environmental collapse, climate chaos, the 6th mass extinction, overshoot, and the time of dying.

Shaw’s primary purpose in interviewing these four people, and in producing the film, is to attempt to answer the question; How do we live in the knowledge that the planet (including humans) is dying?

Shaw asks this question in various ways. When asking Stan Rushworth what traditional owners of the land could offer at this time, Stan is quick to remind Shaw, and the films viewers, that the message indigenous people have to offer is one they have ‘been saying…since Day One.’

Yet, westerners (colonisers of indigenous cultures) have not listened. Dahr Jamail reiterates this when he says ‘it is all about listening.’

This is a film about our values, about how we live with each other and the more-than-human beings on this planet. It is not a film about how much carbon is in the atmosphere or even about mitigation attempts. There are only two graphs in the film and no numbers. As such, this is a film that speaks more directly to our hearts than to our minds.

This film is less than an hour long. Spending an hour watching and listening to this film will reward you in many ways. It is available for free at


1. This essay is no longer available. As Catherine says about it: “I wrote the long-form essay “Facing Extinction” in early 2019.  Over these past years I have occasionally been able to update the information and perspectives contained therein. However, I am finding that the speed with which the data is changing and the pressing issues that we are immediately facing, such as the exponential rise of artificial intelligence and transhumanism, have made some of this essay obsolete.  I have thus decided to remove it.There is, however, a Youtube video of the author reading the original essay still available.

2. Deep Adaptation is available on Jem Bendell’s website - - either by using the ‘Search” button or by scrolling to the bottom of his home page.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

All I Am

When I consider how long I’ve lived, and then ponder the age of the Earth, I am humbled. Let me put this into a scale that may be easier to comprehend.

Suppose the age of the Earth was compacted into a single year. Then my life would blink into existence for just half of one second.

That is infinitesimal. That is insignificant.

That’s time. What about my mass?

The Earth’s mass is approximately 6 x 1024 kg. That is a 6 followed by 24 zeroes. That’s a lot. I won’t even consider the mass of the whole Solar System (the Sun is 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System,) or the mass of our entire galaxy. As to the mass of the Universe – mindboggling!1

So, just in terms of the mass of the Earth, my mass (as well as my lifetime) is also infinitesimal and insignificant.

Thus, when I consider my mass and the length of time I have been here, I am a flicker of time, a speck of dust, insignificant in the vast space and time of the cosmos.

This is all I am.

Such a perspective may seem desolate and worthless.

Yet, it is only a perspective. It is a viewpoint that considers myself as an individual, separate from others, from nature and the Earth. It is a place disconnected from the cosmos.

There is another way to look at things. This is the view espoused so poetically by William Blake in the first four lines of his oft-quoted poem:2

‘To see the world in a grain of sand

And heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.’

When I look at things through similar eyes to those of Blake things change – dramatically. I become inseparable from nature, indivisible from the Earth and all that is.

I am the cosmos, wrapped up in a tiny, temporal human form.

Instead of saying to myself ‘this is all I am,’ I can tell myself that ‘this is ALL I am.’

I am now the world in the grain of sand and eternity in an hour. That is significant.

I am part of this vast cosmos; indeed, it is possible to think of myself as being the cosmos, albeit embodied in this tiny insignificant body that lasts but a flicker of time. I do not pretend that such thinking is easy; indeed, most of the time it is nigh on impossible. Yet, it is worth pondering, and doing so often.

The seemingly contradictory perspectives of all and ALL brings with them a responsibility to act and live from the perspective of ALL whilst inhabiting and accepting a body that is all I am.

Moreso, this responsibility becomes innate, instinctive, intuitive. Again, not easy. There are practices we can nurture and cultivate that allow us to get closer to these concepts however.

Spending mindful time in nature, meditating, chanting, trance dance, and other rituals and states can assist. The reader is encouraged to discover their own practices for doing so.


1. For those who are interested: the Solar System is 333,000 times the mass of the Earth, the galaxy is 3,000,000,000,000 times that of the Solar System. And the Universe? It is 166 million times the mass of our galaxy. I’ll leave you to compute how much more the mass of the Universe is comparted with the mass of the Earth. Here’s a hint: It’s huge!

2. William Blake, Auguries of Innocence, written 1803, published 1863.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Why Do Men Like War Stories?

Two recent scenarios had me pondering this question.

Scenario 1: Recently I attended a Readers and Writers Festival and bumped into a man I know. I asked him what talk he was going to attend next. He told me he was going to a talk given by a prominent Australian male author who had just published his most recent book, about a Vietnam War battle in which Australian forces had participated. This author has found a niche in which he has now published a number of books about battles involving Australian forces in many parts of the world. My colleague said he was going to go because he “was conscripted” during the Vietnam War, although he had not been sent to Vietnam. Beside him, his partner gave me a look that seemed to suggest, “Men!?” I watched the queue for the talk to form outside the venue and noted that around 80% or more were men.

Scenario 2: A couple of months earlier I was at a regular men’s group meeting at which the visiting speakers were a man and a woman from a reducing men’s violence programme. After their presentation and as soon as they had left the room, one of the men in our group bemoaned what he perceived as the programme being one that blamed men for domestic and family violence, whereas, he asserted, women were also capable of violence in domestic situations. Although the man in Scenario 1 is also a member of this men’s group, it was another man complaining here.

The first of these two scenarios raised the question for me: why do men like war stories?

The second scenario may help to provide an answer.

Let me explain.

There is a mystique around war, an almost romanticised narrative of heroism, glory, and bravery attached to war. Men seem more attracted to this potpourri of ideals than do women.

How can we account for this fascination with war stories? There are at least four possibilities. 1. Is it genetic (or epigenetic)? 2. Does evolution play a role? 3. Is it cultural? 4. What about our psycho-social development?

Is there a gene for violence that is more likely to attach to the Y chromosome? The research and evidence for this appears imprecise and ambiguous. Could it be epigenetic rather than genetic? Again, the evidence is mixed, although there are indications that our environment and our behaviour are closely correlated with “turning on” certain genes – like a switch.

Perhaps there is an evolutionary factor at play? Our closest cousins in the Hominidae family – chimpanzees and bonobos – provide us with an answer both for and against. Both these apes continue to live in Central Africa, with chimpanzees habiting a bigger range than their evolutionary cousins. Chimpanzees can be quite aggressive and violent, whereas bonobos show a definite pacifist disposition. Interestingly, chimpanzee bands are ruled by males, and bonobos by the females.

Did we (especially men,) then, follow an evolutionary path that closely resembled that of chimpanzees and shunned that of the more egalitarian and nonviolent bonobos? If evolution is a determining factor, is the path the bonobos took still open to us?

What about culture? Skirmishes between small groups or tribes seem to have taken place within many cultures of the world. However, large-scale warfare appears to have arisen only once societies began to grow in size and become more complex. Indeed, the title of ‘most aggressive warring culture’ can arguably be placed upon the collective heads of the Yamnaya people who strode out of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe (in eastern Europe) and rampaged throughout Europe, reaching as far as the Iberian peninsular and the British Isles around 5,000 to 4,000 years ago.1 Historically we might conclude that European culture has indeed promulgated warfare more often than other cultures, via the colonisation process that began in the 15th century.

Another possibility is one raised only recently within the eco-psychology movement. It has to do with our human development journey from birth to death. Many psychologists, sociologists, educators, and others have attempted to map out this developmental journey. One of the maps that makes the most intuitive sense is that suggested by Bill Plotkin.2 Plotkin draws on the natural world for inspiration and posits an 8-stage journey. Sadly, westernised cultures, collectively as well as individually, according to Plotkin, are mostly stuck in a patho-adolescent version of Stage 3. This unhealthy version of late adolescence is characterised by egocentrism, narcissism, greed, insecurity, continuing violence, materialism, addictiveness, and little capacity for empathy.

I have posed these four possibilities as questions, with little attempt to provide answers. I will attempt to do that now, in considering Scenario 2.

The perpetration of violence in westernised societies is highly gendered. Men are far more likely to be the offenders in violent crimes. In the Australian State (New South Wales - NSW) in which I live 91% of those committing murder were men, 93% of crimes intended to cause injury were committed by men. In a staggering 98% of sexual assault cases the offender was a man.3

When we consider these statistics, it is hard to maintain a fiction that women perpetrate violence as well. Yes, they do, but look at the figures. Suppose you had been stabbed and losing blood from two stab wounds, 95% of your blood being lost from one stab wound, 5% from the other. Which stab wound would you prefer the paramedics to attend to first?

It is no different with the gendered question of violence. Men are the primary perpetrators. Programmes to address men’s violence must come first, especially in a society that pays little attention to funding preventative programmes.

When I hear a man claiming that men are continually being blamed for violence (and women presumably are equally culpable) then, it seems to me, there are two possibilities. Either, the man does not know the bigger picture and the data involved, or they are hiding and attempting to point the finger elsewhere.

Shifting blame and accusing others is an age-old tactic. It is a convenient veil to hide behind. Alas, when we hide away (either ourselves or, in this case, a matter of concern) it becomes difficult to ask questions, and even more difficult to find answers, and nigh on impossible to institute solutions.

So, my plea to men who like war stories is this. Ask yourself why you do so? Then, ask even more probing questions, such as: where in our culture has this fascination come from? What purpose, if any, does it serve?


1.  accessed 14 June 2023

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

3. NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), accessed 14 June 2023

Wednesday 7 June 2023

The Myth of Normal (Book Review)

Do you think that ‘our culture’s skewed idea of normality is the single biggest impediment to fostering a healthier world’?

Gabor Maté thinks so, and you may also think so (if you don’t already) by the time you finish The Myth of Normal.1

Dr Gabor Maté is internationally known and respected for his work on stress, addiction, and other psycho-emotional states of mind.

Written with his son, Daniel, Gabor Maté draws on more than four decades of experience, meticulous research, and dozens of personal stories, to present a picture of suffering stemming from within the very culture within which we live.

Maté is not the first to make the assertion that our (westernised) culture is a toxic one. He is not the first to join the dots. This book, though, may be the first to make the lines between those dots clearly, and undeniably, visible.

The victims of this toxic culture do not show up just in the mental health wards, counselling rooms, and psychiatrists offices of the world. Dr Maté acknowledges all of us as victims, suffering (often alone) in the kitchens, bedrooms, corporate offices, and manufacturing floors of the world.

At some stage the stresses, unhealthy expectations, and pains generated by our normal culture will show up in our bodies and minds. Our harmful responses and reactions to this will be inflicted upon ourselves, other people, and the planet.

Too often, Maté states, these stresses, and especially their causes, are not recognised. They are so normalised that they are so effectively suppressed that we do not realise they are eating away at us. Maté says this well:

‘If you go through life being stressed while not knowing you are stressed, there is little you can do to protect yourself from the long-term physiological consequences.’

It is hardly surprising that we do not know we are stressed. Health care professionals are not taught to ask the right questions. Questions are not asked about the environment within which sufferers live. More crucially, questions are not asked about the earlier periods of one’s life – especially childhood. The source, says Maté, of our present-day suffering is to be found within the culture in which we were raised. Yet, our health care system does not acknowledge this, and so the appropriate questions are not asked.

In such a culture, can healing (coming back to wholeness in its true sense) take place? Maté believes so. He offers four As of self-healing: 1. Discovering our authentic self, 2. Realising we have agency, 3. Acknowledging anger, and 4. Moving into acceptance.

Later in the book, Maté offers two more As – this time aimed at healing the underlying cultural system: activism and advocacy.

If we can see through the myth of normal and begin a healing process for ourselves, others, and the planet then Maté is hopeful. His final paragraph briefly outlines this healing journey:

‘We are blessed with a momentous opportunity. Shedding toxic myths of disconnection from ourselves, from one another, and from the planet, we can bring what is normal and what is natural, bit by bit, closer together. It is a task for the ages: one that can redeem the past, inspire the present, and point to a brighter, healthier future.’


1. Gabor Maté with Daniel Maté, The Myth of Normal: trauma, illness & healing in a toxic culture, Vermillion (Penguin Random House), London, 2022

Thursday 1 June 2023

Pessi-optimism (or Opti-pessimism)

Voltaire. Painting by 
Nicolas de Largillière,
When I was young, one of the favourite topics of debate amongst students in the University café or around the dining table with flat-mates asked the question: “Are you and optimist or a pessimist?” Those young, naïve, student debates could easily last well into the night.

I don’t know whether young people debate this question these days or not. However, the dualism behind the question seems to pervade our cultural beliefs and attitudes.

Optimism is the attitude and/or belief that future events will turn out to be beneficial or favourable. Pessimism, on the other hand, is the attitude and/or belief that future events will have undesirable outcomes.

In our world today, having an attitude of eternal optimism is becoming increasingly harder to maintain. The mutually reinforcing predicaments of environmental, social, emotional, intellectual, and cultural forms are all easily seen by those capable of seeing and reading.

Leibniz and Voltaire

The question of optimism versus pessimism has been with us (in the western tradition) for at least 300 years, and may even have earlier precedents.

In 1710 the German polymath, Gottfried Leibniz wrote that we live in ‘the best of all possible worlds,’ succinctly depicting his philosophical optimism.

Forty-nine years later (in 1759) Voltaire published his classic novel Candide. In it, Voltaire drew on the recent (1755) experience of the Lisbon earthquake, tsunami, and city fires, to lampoon Leibniz’ optimism. The series of damaging events left between 40,000 and 50,000 dead in Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. Voltaire saw nothing to be optimistic about in these, and other, tragedies.

Although Voltaire was labelled a pessimist by his Jesuit detractors, he perhaps should be better thought of as a practical realist. For instance, in Candide, he writes that ‘we must cultivate our garden.’ Gardens were a popular motif for Voltaire, and here we read of him suggesting that we cultivate today what we expect tomorrow from the garden.

Rolland and Gramsci

Following Leibniz and Voltaire the anti-fascist Italian thinker and activist, Antonio Gramsci, was imprisoned by the Italian fascist government in 1926. During his time in prison Gramsci wrote (and had smuggled out) 3,000 pages of notes about his thinking and his analysis of the situation in Italy and throughout the world. Now known as The Prison Notebooks, one of the most famous lines is: ‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.’

The Notebooks were not the first time Gramsci had used the phrase, nor were they his original thoughts. However, it was his famous Notebooks that brought the statement into the public light.

The French life-long pacifist, dramatist, novelist, and essayist, Romain Rolland had coined the phrase in 1920 when reviewing a novel. Interestingly, Rolland later became one of the most ardent campaigners for the release of Gramsci from prison.

The phrase clearly shows that Rolland and Gramsci understood intellectually the bleak situations the world was in. Yet, both maintained an optimism of the will. They both understood that it was possible to look at the world around them and see its many faults and problems, yet maintain an inner sense of contentment.

Opti-pessimism Today

This same discernment is possible today. We can be both pessimistic and optimistic, at the same time. We can hold both attitudes in our minds and hearts. Indeed, holding two apparently contradictory views at the same time is the quintessential meaning of the word ambivalent.

In fact, another philosopher and social activist has written of this capability. Vaclav Havel was the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of Czech Republic (Czechia) and wrote, in 1990,

“Hope, in the deep and meaningful sense … is an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.”

Here, Havel is clearly stating that it is possible to act from an optimistic attitude (because it is good) yet recognising that the outcome may be a pessimistic one (it may not succeed.)

Recall the definitions that began this blog. Optimism and pessimism are both attitudes and beliefs about what the outcome of future events may be. There is a future orientation in the minds of those who are optimistic and those who are pessimistic.

Vaclav Havel, in the quote above, brings the conversation back to the present; to the here and now. To ‘work for something because it is good’ implies a present-moment attitude. It is good now, and hence is worth doing now. It is not attached to any outcome in the future.

Should the question of: ‘Are you a pessimist or an optimist?’ arise in conversation today, I think I will quote Vaclav Havel, and suggest both opti-pessimism, and pessi-optimism.


Today we face what has been termed a Metacrisis, in which discreet problems do not exist, instead there are inter-dependent and inter-linked predicaments. Problems may have solutions, predicaments do not, only outcomes.

In a situation like this, an attachment to optimism may end up being of more harm than a pessimistic attitude. This is particularly so with techno-optimism. Techno-optimism quickly leads to techno-opportunism, whereby technological “solutions’ get applied with little, or any, consideration for the risks that the technology may create.

Our continuing belief in technology (including that technology will “save us”) is an optimism bias we must dispense with.