Piers Maddox, Path of rightness in time of civilisational change

Piers Maddox, of Devon Area Meeting and our former Treasurer will present our eighth ‘Creative Conversation’ on 6 January 2022.

Piers writes:

We live in a time of global crisis and civilisational change. Our white western civilisation with its capitalist exploitation, its war-making and its ethos of superiority is blocking progress. The religions of the past are also past their use-by date. So the question is, how can we better express what guides us and gives us inner strength, as we seek to transition to a better future?
I’ll be sharing my thoughts on that.

8 January 2022:
Piers has now let us have the script for his talk and I append it as text below. Piers’ pdf which may better show his line-breaks, ‘versing’ and structure is available here. See the post here.

ok…so, path of rightness in time of civilisational change …fancy title actually it’s the same as the path of rightness at any time
but the turmoil of this time makes it clearer.

so .. the world’s a mess…a tragedy …
we’ve been bingeing on fossil fuels and other resources
topsoil and freshwater … overused
it’s like self-harm … even suicide
do you ever feel like you’re being farmed… and milked?
did we vote to trash the planet this way?
and we’re the generation that saw it coming … but did nothing to stop it when we could …that doesn’t feel good, does it?
and this land of freedom and democracy …
is that freedom to exploit people and planet
freedom to do what you please without responsibility?
America’s the bully in the playground … with its gang of rich countries
and global-scale war’s being planned
by the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned of
and the CIA that Kennedy wanted to shatter
they’re the forces of evil in the world today …and they’re out of control

it’s not people that are the problem but the system we live in.
you have to eat and regurgitate the food of the empire you inhabit
and we’re all tied in and complicit.
but our white western civilisation, with its exploitation and war, is blocking progress. the exploitation’s reached its limit and the warmaking’s insane.
and now with the ecocrisis the trauma is global. and we can heal it globally.
it’s not personal…but global salvation we need.

it’s time for we in the West, who’ve eaten most of the carbon cake, to give up the exploitation and war, put aside our sense of superiority, and learn to share and cooperate …and heal and save ourselves in the process.
we need a global system that nurtures goodwill not greed, cooperation not ill-will. global management of resources, fairly done. to satisfy our basic needs, globally.
5% of global GDP would pay to transform things, and a 30% tax on the money in tax havens would raise that instantly.

the internet has opened a door and a window of opportunity, to see things more clearly, and to the global connectedness we need, and the sense of oneness, once the reserve of mystics and lunatics, is now the word on the street … we’re one people one planet now … or soon will be.

so like a snake leaves its skin, it’s time to leave this civilisation based on exploitation and war behind, as speedily as we can. because a new child’s being born, and these are the birthpangs.

there are two obstacles I see. first, wealth inequality. the camel and the eye of the needle. globally 1% own half of everything, while the poorest half of the world own just 2%. And we are part of the richest 10% globally. And when you’re in your kitchen or bathroom do you give a thought to the half of the world for whom hot running water’s just a dream? and we don’t like to make the link, use meritocracy to justify the inequality, we don’t like to think of our footprint…not just our exploitation-of-the-planet footprint but our people-exploitation footprint too.

but when you do, and see the impossibility of getting people to go through the eye of the needle individually, then you see the need for global system change. and when you realise that, how do you react? ok, it’s hard to know what to do, but if you just turn away, something inside you dies.

along with wealth inequality comes fakery, which affects the middle classes especially, because it helps us deal with our complicity. there’s the fakery of empire…making war in the name of peace. and we’ve been well propagandised.
and there’s the fakery of living the meaningless life, as the poet palladas wrote… ‘life’s a stage, full of toys, dress up and play your part, put every serious thought away or risk a broken heart.’
then there’s the fakery of liberals that James Baldwin talked about, empty words and token gestures, naivety and feigned ignorance, ignor-ance, not understanding the injustice right before their eyes, not wanting to.

then there’s spiritual fakery… excuse not to engage with the world, smokescreen to hide behind, recreational activity, lifestyle posturing. Pope Francis talks about the virus of narcissistic spirituality. who he’s got in mind I wonder? and the bible … whether it’s the chosen people syndrome of the old testament or the complicity with empire of the new, both get used to justify intolerance, exploitation and war. and with the Dalai Lama in the pay of the CIA, it’s worth asking, hypothetically, is your spiritual practice one that the CIA would be happy to support?

so what can guide us in this time of turmoil? what is useful and real and not fake? or to put it another way, when they ask you what do you worship or venerate, what do you reply? here’s my answer to that.

there’s a feeling /and a force in the world /to want to help fix things, to make things better. it’s a feeling inside, an urge to act for something beyond self or tribe,
to reach out a hand, to help heal this world, and ourselves.
it’s a force that spans all cultures and time, you can see it in nonhuman primates too,

they know right from wrong, and appreciate harmony, but in humans it’s more distilled, supposedly we’re more skilled,
and even in this modern world which nurtures selfishness and greed
this force or spirit or desire to act for the good

is still found, all around, sometimes in places you least expect…it’s irrepressible.

it’s the spirit that gave rise to global humanitarianism,
abolition of the slave trade, adoption of human rights, founding of the UN.
it leads some people to fight for the oppressed,
say like Clive Stafford-Smith with his charity Reprieve…for people on death row and victims of drones, or Snowden and Assange, the whistleblower and the journalist
banished and imprisoned for revealing American war crimes
and countless other people living less high-profile lives
people committed to doing what they can to help make a better world,
and who’ve committed to put a bit of effort in
because they choose to, and want to.

and it’s the spirit that you can see now rising / all round the world in response to our global situation
and it gives us strength and focus we didn’t know we had because when life is threatened, determination kicks in.

but this feeling or force or spirit, what‘s its name? …I mean we have to try and put words to these things don’t we…so here goes.

this feeling, this force….I call it gudda
the word I found from the indo-european root gedr, meaning gather,
like herding sheep or making a bundle of sticks fit well together
connecting with others harmoniously
helping to fix this world that’s broke, and the global dimension is key. actually ancient egyptians had a similar thing called maat
truth, justice, beauty, balance, all the gifts of the gods
fill yourself with maat they’d say and replace the bad in the world with good. and perhaps you’ve a different word, but actually the word doesn’t matter it’s what lies behind it that counts

so here are some things to know about gudda.

gudda is truth, the pursuit of clarity, cutting through the fakery, getting to the essence of things. authenticity too, true to yourself and willing to be self-critical.
also, willing to step out of the western media bubble
with its playschool news inciting suspicion and ill-will.

gudda is justice, an end to the exploitation of people and planet. It means peace as well, because peace and justice go hand in hand. gudda’s the enemy of exploitation and war.

gudda is amity. to connect and cooperate. there are other words you can use. love, though love can be blind. kindness too, though kindness can kill.
And of course, you need to feel good in yourself too.

so that’s the gudda trinity…truth, justice and amity. also…

gudda is the challenge of working out what the best thing to do is and doing it.
there’s no shortage of things to be done
and we can’t know where the shoots of the good future spring from…so push at many doors use all your talents and ingenuity
without expectation or need.
because its not about you but what you can do…
which doesn’t mean selfless, but it means recognition
that we’re all part of a superorganism, like bees.

gudda is transformation

don’t try to blank things out with mindfulness or drugs ride the roller coaster, face the storm
when a path appears, a heartbeat will decide
take first step and there’s no turning back

out of suffering good can come, when we put a bit of effort in gudda’s the global community invisible but real

gudda’s an attitude poised and calm…like tai chi.

and gudda is giving

not altruism, not us and them, but we.
until there’s system change it’s reparation for the damage that’s been done and it’s to pay for your ecofootprint, for your time on this earth
and it’s helping to turn people’s vision and dreams into reality
helping make the better world we need
and when you give, it’s not just money, you nurture gudda too
but still, every dollar less spent in the west is a step for the good

specifically, the global giving website
has hundreds of brilliant projects…just one example …la voute nubienne vaulted mudbrick eco-housing with no wood or metal used
and £300 pays for a house … I mean is that not irresistable?
if you can afford it, give.
and even when we know death is approaching
we can still give. still live to give.

gudda is black lives matter

at the heart of the empire, where change must come
the descendants of slaves can show us how to behave
and likewise the indigenous who survived being herded off cliffs
and all the victims of colonialism
and the poor and oppressed everywhere
in trashed countries and refugee camps, from rural huts to city slums, and not forgetting /the new precariat underclass in the rich west
and for that matter you and me,
and our children, and their children too,
all deserve better than this

gudda’s in China too

China has sense of community, that we lost long ago.
they’ve no class war, they had a revolution and got over that.
50% of people live on the land, that’s a good basis for sustainability.
they do things nonideologically…whatever works best.
They’re committed to five principles of peaceful coexistence, and also to a path to ecological civilisation, harmony with nature and harmony between peoples. we should do that.
and if they can make capitalism work to benefit the poor, is that such a bad thing for the world?
if your interested in our shared global future then I suggest check out CGTN, the china global television network channel. you may be surprised, even inspired, you’ll certainly be better informed.

you can think of gudda as god if you like

there are no spiritual police
but if you do, be clear
there’s no next-world reward, no help coming from above,
no need for gifts or prayers, it’s not something to believe in or obey
just do and be it.
and with gudda as your guide you’ll feel lightened inside…and even held

and ultimately gudda is
the journey and the destination
the progress of humanity to perfection
so be double focused … on the longterm goal and also on each step on the way.

the time will come when sitting on the fence is no longer an option and you have to choose which side you’re on
and weak and foolish though we can be, we can overcome these things and as awareness grows

and the desire to help fix things spreads
to connect and cooperate /and do it for real not fake eventually a moment will come /and it can turn on a button and the scales will tip, and humanity will shake free and rise from misery to bliss
like the lotus from the swamp
…so we should strive to be
the lotus…all the time

so here’s the final question
are you feeling guddish?
do you feel the gudda in you?
if not, that’s ok, wait till it comes
but in that case the question arises
if you’re not doing gudda…then what are you doing with your life?

and on that note I’ll say … gudday

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