Born Lucky

Show me a person who appears to enjoy good luck more often than most and who may thereby be known as a ‘lucky so and so’ and I will show you a person who almost certainly doesn’t leave their consistent good luck entirely to chance. I am convinced of this assertion from my own life experience, firmly believing that ‘good luck’ is not only a matter of chance but that it also has a lot to do with the way we process information and make our decisions. The information we receive and convert into stories we tell ourselves on a regular basis can either enliven or dull our imagination, which may then have positive or negative influences on our values and decision-making. While it is true that we often experience good and bad luck merely by chance, being lucky or unlucky also results from good or bad decision-making by ourselves and others, especially those others to whom we are closely related. For me, it was my mother Dilys whose values, imagination and story telling all but guaranteed I became a ‘lucky so and so’.

I was made in Scotland at a place called Campbeltown, probably during October 1943, because I was born about nine months later in Wales at a place called Cardiff. During the first five years of my life my mother Dilys often said to me “Robert you were born lucky and its better to be lucky than rich”. In hindsight I believe these words had a lot to do with the fact that my parents survived on a very modest income and that my mother had lost her first two children at birth, so I was indeed ‘third time lucky’.

With the help of her closest female kin – her mother, sister and at least one aunty, Dilys nurtured and raised me in the Welsh town of Penarth, while my father Jim was stationed in Scotland remaining obediently subservient to the British Royal Navy and seeing me in the flesh for the first time during my third year – 1946. Throughout my youth I idolized Jim because he was a tall handsome detective sergeant who told me lots of exciting naval and cops and robber stories and on some rare good mood payday evenings he would take me to the movies. Unfortunately when it came to nurturing my younger brother Richard and I in the ways of the world, our father was about as useful as tits on a bull. Maybe its just as well, because I hate to think where he might have led us; during his later years he idolized Margaret Thatcher…, I rest my case.

I believe it was a combination of post war euphoria plus a relatively strong Welsh matriarchal influence on my early formative years that began having a major influence on the way I related to people and places. On reflection it was as though my childhood years were a never-ending adventure, with everything and everyone appearing to enjoy being in a seamless relationship, ‘Cynefin’ is a contemporary Welsh word I came across during my Social Ecology studies at the University of Western Sydney UWS/NSW (2000 -2002) and it well describes what I remember of being grown up by my Welsh mothers and aunties in Penarth –

“a place or the time when we instinctively belong or feel most connected. In those moments what lies beneath mundane existence is unveiled and the joy of being alive can overwhelm us.”

 Unfortunately as for most five-year olds, my childhood adventure came to an abrupt end when I was made to start learning the devices of the world and my Cynefin place was pushed aside, to make room for a place called school and a so-called proper education. School and teachers were so un-attractive and of little interest to me, hence I didn’t learn much from my early school lessons, it was my mother who during my ninth year eventually taught me how to read – better late than never. Dilys was the best teacher I ever had and could have been my one and only teacher had the culture of the day allowed her to be.

My childhood indoctrination into believing that I was ‘born lucky’ has been a lifelong conviction and way of experiencing the world; it has enabled me more often than not to assume constructive intent on the part of others, somewhat naively during my youth, then with a tad more caution during my adult years. This way of experiencing the world in general and relating to other people in particular has enabled me to cultivate mostly positive and meaningful relationships with the people and places that I have had the pleasure of living and working with. It is a way of relating that has brought me far more joy than sorrow and I believe it has been this quality of relationship with other – including the other than human, that has enabled me to acquire a spiritual, ecological and political consciousness that inspires me to continue cultivating my world view, values and not least, my seasonal and daily PaGaian praxis.

As with our spiritual vision, so too with our ecological and social visions, they are planetary by nature and PaGaian by name.

( Taffy Seaborne & GlenYs Livingstone – Southern Winter 2013)

 

During my early fifties while living and working among the Anangu traditional owners of Central Australia (1990-98), I had a sort of ‘born again’ experience that nowadays I put down to the Anangu and their cultural landscape having reminded me of what my life was like as a young boy. My then partner and I were on a deliberate pilgrimage to experience what we imagined might be the ‘real’ Australia and as it turned out for me at least, experiencing a more real Self. Among the many benefits of living among and learning from the Anangu, I became more aware of the fact that I had been and was continuing to enjoy a relatively privileged lifestyle, not so much in a material sense, but more in the sense of having been ‘born lucky’. I am convinced for example, that it required a bit more than good decision-making for me to transform my career self from Welsh apprentice toolmaker to Australian Park Manager of Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park. Now I want to try making more sense of what that bit more is.

 

My later adult returning to Cynefin was an adventure of my own making that began in 1965, when as soon as I had completed a tedious five-year toolmaking apprenticeship I was lucky enough to convince a desperate chief marine engineer to give me a job on board a merchant vessel, that went tramping around the world. This too was one of my life changing decisions and it reminds me of how my imagination is inclined to process information that manifests as good luck rather than bad luck. When we left port in Bristol England there were two of us so-called junior engineers on board ship, a few weeks later while anchored off the Bahamas we received orders to pick up food and supplies for the war effort in Vietnam and deliver them to Da Nang and Saigon. I got all excited and looked forward to an adventure, with a double pay war zone bonus thrown in for good measure, whereas my fellow junior engineer felt so bad about the idea of sailing into a war zone he jumped the ship in San Francisco, never to be seen again. On more careful reflection my fellow junior engineer’s first language and all of his thinking was Welsh with English being his second language, it may well be that he was a young conscientious objector, if so then I take my hat off to him and say yachi-da boyo, I hope you are alive and well.

 

It was my experience of having sailed with a couple of very entertaining Australian sea dogs and what for me turned out to be a life changing movie called ‘They’re A Weird Mob’ written by John O’Grady, that had me imagining a new life adventure ‘down under’. I don’t mind admitting that it was the combination of scenes of Bondi beach with lots of bikini clad girls, the six o’clock swill in the pub and the blokei-ness of the building gang that influenced my life changing decision to emigrate to Australia. When I tell people about my weird movie experience come life changing decision, most of them say it would have had the opposite effect and put them off moving to Australia. Once again though I must count my lucky stars and vivid, albeit naïve, imagination for having decided in 1967 to emigrate to what for me actually did turn out to be ‘the lucky country’. The number of good luck stories that then led to my so-called ‘born again’ experience among the Anangu of Central Australia and my ongoing PaGaian praxis are too many to mention but some do stand out and are worth telling.

 

Working within the William Ricketts Sanctuary on Mount Dandenong Victoria, roughly between 1978 and 1985 and learning how to relate and communicate with such an interesting eccentric artist proved to be an exceptionally good stroke of luck for me. William must have been well into his 80’s and I was the local Forest Overseer employed by the then Victorian Forests Commission, to among other things, help William with the maintenance of his sacred place. Most of my forestry crew found William to be a bit difficult, even annoying to work for. Fortunately I was able to avoid such difficulty thanks mainly to being in awe of what he had created, particularly his sculptures of Central Australian Aboriginal people, who until then had not entered (let alone raised) my consciousness in any way whatsoever. On reflection it was time spent sitting and staring at the mounted life-size statue of a male Aboriginal elder and further up in the sanctuary a statue of a female Aboriginal mother embracing her many children with the words ‘Earthly Mother’ at her feet. My partner Glenys and I have a large framed picture of William’s Earthly Mother that alternates between seasons to oversee our communal ritual space and our bed. Being in awe of these images and entering into many of the sacred niches on William’s holy mountain must have sown the seeds for me to eventually visit and be further inspired by, the people and country that so inspired the artist himself decades earlier. I have a strong feeling that William Ricketts also had a mother who made sure he became a ‘lucky so and so’.

 

It was a combination of good decision-making and good luck that resulted in my being employed by the then Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service (1990-95), a federal agency that jointly managed the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park with its traditional Anangu owners. During my time as District Supervisor (1990-92) then as Park Manager (1992-95) we successfully re-nominated the park as a World Heritage Area based on its cultural values and built the long-awaited Anangu Cultural Centre. It was for me an amazing period of learning in general and these two major cultural projects in particular meant that I was privy to information and stories that I would not otherwise have been so lucky to receive.

 

It was during the next three years (1995-98) while I was employed as the Project Officer for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara (AP) Lands, that I was able to visit Uluru during my free time purely for the purpose and pleasure of re-creation. This is when I had my so-called ‘born again’ experience, a time when Anangu and their landscape taught and reminded me about the importance of relationship: relationship with Self, with other and with all-that–is. In hindsight when compared to my childhood Cynefin, my time in Central Australia turned out to be my adult Cynefin and as such the second most significant and lucky period of my life.

 

My ‘third time lucky’ at the relatively grand life changing scale of ‘good luck’ was meeting my beloved Glenys Livingstone during early 2000. We were both studying Social Ecology at the UWS/NSW Hawkesbury campus, Glenys for her Doctoral thesis and me for a Masters degree, we both graduated on the same day during May 2003. I was trying to build some kind of bridge between my Central Australian pilgrimage and my need to continue making sense of main-stream contemporary Australian society that I had chosen to re-immerse myself in. Glenys was rigorously re-storying the Deity no less, using female metaphor and seasonal ritual celebration as a catalyst for personal and cultural change. Our common heritage, spiritual and philosophical interests were not the only aspects of our relationship that proved to be a good match. Our family names Livingstone and Seaborne was an inspirational early clue that there were some of the more subtle realms also busy match making on our behalf.

 

During the past fifteen years Glenys and I have enjoyed living and working together here in a village called Springwood, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. We are literally surrounded by a World Heritage listed forest, an ideal natural environment within which to hold sacred space for the purpose of celebrating what we refer to as Mother Earth’s seasonal ‘holy moments’. Each year Glenys is host and celebrant for the celebration of eight seasonal moments including the Winter and Summer Solstice moments, the Autumn and Spring Equinox moments and the four cross quarter moments in between. During our time together Glenys has produced her book entitled PaGaian Cosmology – Re-inventing Earth based Goddess Religion, and we have since built our PaGaian Mooncourt, a sacred space designed specifically for the purpose of celebrating the seamless relationship that exists between the Human, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon.

 

As one might expect, being born lucky has served me well enough to enjoy what I now comfortably consider to be my ‘full material liberation’. However, it was not until my beloved Glenys introduced me to her Earth-based eco-spiritual practice that I was able to attain my ‘full spiritual liberation’. With my spiritual consciousness already being informed through my PaGaian praxis I was able to become more careful about receiving and processing information in general and have since narrowed my information gathering and processing down to three main categories of consciousness – spiritual, ecological and political. I can now endeavour to inform each category thus: spiritual consciousness through my PaGaian praxis, – ecological consciousness through being guided by the twelve design principles of Permaculture, and my political consciousness through the political teachings of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky; as represented and expressed by the Social Equality Party’s  World Socialist Web Site – WSWS.org. I am confident that there will continue to be many ways and means for the toiling and exploited working class to develop their political and socialist consciousness and thereby eventually attain ‘full material and spiritual liberation’ (L. Trotsky 1938), but for me, being ‘born lucky’ more or less guaranteed it.

 

Malpataffy,  – Summer Solstice 2014.

 

a 70s something lucky so and so...

a 70s something lucky so and so…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning MH17 into a worthy sacrifice.

The recent loss of passengers on flight MH17 deserves more than political and religious posturing. Their death can be regarded as a sacrifice to motivate a growing number of the international working class community to question why our so-called political and religious leaders keep plunging humanity into their bloody wars. More of us need to be raising our political and spiritual awareness by seriously questioning – among other things, the role of a dominant international ruling class that not only owns the means of production and the bulk of wealth it generates, but now they also own the political and religious institutions that have so much influence on the quality of our lives. They have bought them, lock stock and (gun) barrel.

While it may be that MH17 was brought or shot down by a poorly (quality) educated, semi (politically) conscious working class universal soldier, the primary cause of this and all the other wars during recent history is an increasingly desperate ruling class, desperate to protect its failing Finance Monopoly Capitalism (FMC) using an increasingly expensive, profitable and violent Military Industrial Complex (MIC).

With such regularly occurring ‘normal accidents’, political insurrections, wars and the ruthless removal of anything impeding its progress, the ‘Death Agony of Capitalism’ is looking more and more like it is going to be a slow, self-inflicted suicidal death. In the mean time, the ruling class will as it always has, be relying on less well-educated and less politically conscious members of the working class to commit its murders and do its killing. Hence the urgent need for a growing number of the international working class community to raise our political and spiritual awareness.

This is the task of the Fourth International (ICFI) and its political party The Socialist Equality Parties (SEP & IYSSEP) with the technological help of WSWS.org. It is a task that will have to take into consideration how the ICFI helps to unite a very politically and religiously diverse, fragmented and mostly oppositional international working class community. This task is very demanding – to say the least, yet absolutely essential because if for no other reason than if we are unable to stop a rampant violent ruling class MIC, there might well be a big mess to clean up and a lot of social re-inventing to do. Assuming of course that ‘mother nature’ continues to allow for such…

 

Malpataffy

Southern Winter 2014.

 

Lords of War

European Lords of War (LoW) made manifest the violent nature of their imperialism by instigating our planet’s first World War in 1914. Here is a quality analysis of the political tension leading up to it. http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/28/pers-j28.html Given the ecological and economic crisis now manifesting a century later, we do well to learn from such pertinent history and prepare ourselves for a very uncertain future.

For the purpose of this story I am using the acronyms LoW and Us to emphasise the fact that these Lords of War continue to deliberately, carelessly and ruthlessly lower the quality of life for the rest of Us, with Us probably making up at least 99.99% of the planet’s human population. Moreover, with most of Us either consciously or unconsciously being the actual producers and protectors of the LoW’s wealth and power. For the many of Us who are already having to cope with the negative impact of ecological and economic crisis and for those of Us who have yet to do so, we need to avail ourselves of the most objective, truthful information about the prevailing political, ecological and economic circumstances that we are now immersed in and affected by – albeit to varying degrees. This includes our need to understand why so many of Us continue to swear blind obedience to the LoW and do all of their dirty work, often to the point of sacrificing our own lives. Why do so many of Us still behave in this subservient, self-destructive manner?

Nowadays the ruling LoW reside in most major capital cities throughout the world, for example London where they are collectively known as The House of Lords, Washington where they are singularly known as The President of the USA. The LoW also hide out within less well-known places and titles such as the jungles and deserts of the South Americas, Africa and in the mountains of Afghanistan where they are at least literally known as War Lords. The LoW is that group of ruling war mongers who from time to time regard it as necessary to wage war against their enemies and competitors in an effort to protect their mostly territorial, sometimes religious, often political, and always financial, vested interests. While the LoW represent a miniscule percentage of our total global population, they own most of the global wealth and they wield their immense power and control over the rest of Us – including the other than human. As a direct result of this disproportionate amount of power and control that LoW have over Us, we now face the combined threat of a planetary ecological and economic catastrophe, possibly yet another world war with all its nuclear ramifications. The time has well and truly arrived for our planet to be rid of this LoW-life. I want to imagine and suggest how this might happen?

The editors of Monthly Review – an independent socialist magazine (May 2014 edition) suggest, “..so great is the epochal crisis of our time, encompassing both the economic and ecological crisis, that nothing but a world revolution is likely to save humanity (and countless others among the earth’s species) from a worsening series of catastrophes.” They go on to quote the great artist, writer and socialist William Morris by way of justifying their use of the somewhat frightening word ‘revolution’ “..that it does not necessarily mean a change accompanied by riot and all kinds of violence, and cannot mean a change made mechanically and in the teeth of opinion by a group of men who have somehow managed to seize on the executive power for the moment..” (“How We Live and How We Might Live,” Signs of Change [1888])

When we carefully learn from objective history and receive our day-to-day information from sources that are relatively independent of and more honest than main stream corporate media, it becomes more and more evident that the LoW have once again deliberately and carelessly plunged the rest of Us into the most dangerous ecological and economic circumstances that we as a species have ever been confronted with. We can now receive more than enough daily evidence that we are in the midst of an emerging and worsening global catastrophe. There is a very real possibility that the existing level of war and carnage in and between nation states will escalate and that the LoW because they so personify violence, could well self-destruct, leaving the planet and most if not all of Us in the kind of mess that millions of people – especially in the Middle East and Ukraine, now find themselves in.

There is clearly plenty more for us to be afraid of than the idea of a global revolution and the argument in favour of such a revolution is rapidly gaining momentum and support. However, we need to be careful about the nature of a global revolution, especially if we have a mind to actively participate in and creatively contribute to it.

As the current crisis unfolds and irrespective of how much worse it gets, an existing embryonic, non-violent revolutionary movement is already taking place, which given the necessary circumstances – albeit catastrophic and messy, could permeate the planet very quickly and soon reach a scale necessary for the full liberation and re-invention of Us. From my perspective only a non-violent revolution that spreads out organically could eventually achieve the radical social change now urgently required throughout the planet. Again, depending on where one looks for their day-to-day information, (ref links below) we can find plenty of evidence that an embryonic, global revolution is already gradually spreading out from deep within and among caring individuals who out of necessity are gradually becoming more and more philosophically opposed to resorting to violence under any circumstances. Such individuals are also naturally morphing into like-minded groups that collectively have the potential to evolve organically into elements of a radically new holistic, sustainable and equitable planetary society.

A post catastrophe non violent organic world revolution is a revolution that will not only enable Us to avoid returning to the divide and conquer trap previously set by the LoW but it will be a revolution which is characterized by Us continuing to manifest a natural, gradual and radical change to the very basis of society. This is why I prefer to imagine our revolution as organic in that it has already begun by spreading out organically from random, individual and group centres. History teaches us that politically motivated revolutions and insurrection typically end up failing because they are too easily manipulated and controlled by so-called leaders such as the LoW, or for that matter any group of men ‘somehow seizing power for the moment’. The outcome of violent and hence fundamentally flawed political revolutions and insurrections is that those of Us who participate in them usually end up having jumped out of the frying pan straight into the fire – so to speak.

The other most obvious reason why political revolutions and insurrections that resort to violence inevitably fail is because the LoW never do their own killing, for this they have always relied on those of Us who are willing and able to kill each other. For Us, violent political revolutions and insurrections will always be a self-sacrificing lost cause.

Having lived and worked among the Tjilpi Pampa (Anangu traditional elders) of central Australia for about eight years, I am familiar with the power that communal ritual can have in the transformation of imagination into manifest reality. It is this kind of public dreaming that I believe is energizing the above mentioned embryonic, non-violent revolutionary movement now taking place(s) throughout the planet. This kind of non-violent, organically growing revolution could eventually enable nothing less than a new epoch of planetary, social transformation. We, Us have done it before, with little or no mechanical or technological advantage. Millennia before the emergence of any ruling Lords of War, our ancestors invented symbolic expression, firstly as art, then morphing it into verbal and eventually written language. We, Us can do it again, we can re-invent a whole new world of as yet unimagined social possibilities.

 

Taffy Seaborne

Southern Winter 2014.

 

Some useful links supporting non-violent revolution –

Robertjburrowes.wordpress.com

WSWS.org

monthlyreview.org

climate&capitalism.com

pagaiancosmology.com

peakmoment.tv

Fellowship for Intentional Community

 

LEST WE FORGET, we are planetary.

If and when we care enough and pause for a moment to contemplate the seemingly never-ending gratuitous violence, death and destruction that we humans inflict on ourselves, we should not forget that ultimately we are all in a biological relationship with each other. In this sense, at the very least, we all come from and return to the same planetary place. Why then do some of us behave so badly toward others, including the ‘other’ than human species? My short answer is that most of us have been persuaded to forget that we are first and foremost a planetary being. My longer answer is that since we as a species have allowed – even encouraged, the emergence from within our midst of so-called ‘ruling classes’ many millions of our fellow beings have been involved in the seemingly deliberate violence, death and destruction that takes place between conflicting international ruling classes.

Nowadays it is the international ruling class that deliberately maintain their military capacity to defend and or attack their international counterparts as and when they deem it necessary. The reason for this is that ultimately none of them can afford to trust each other. We can safely assume that the international ruling class as a whole is made up of a relatively small percentage of the planet’s population, – for the purpose of this story I am suggesting the number is less than 0.001%. Such a relatively small grouping would still include all royal families, all fiefdoms, several thousand of the planet’s wealthiest families and all of their subservient political, religious leaders and war-lords. On the whole these ruling classes rule over nation states that as often as not, are in conflict with each other, usually in a mad scramble for limited resources and maximising their profit/wealth. Consequently these ruling classes need to exercise power and control over the rest of us because they are totally dependant on us to continue producing and defending their wealth and their nation states. The rest of us therefor I am suggesting make up at least 99.999% of the planet’s population, a relatively large subordinate grouping that includes all working families, – employed and unemployed, all children, students, volunteers, conscripts, police, mercenaries, insurgents, terrorists, refugees and the homeless etc.

The ruling classes maintain their control over the rest of us by cleverly persuading us from cradle to grave that what they do for us is in our nations best interest and what they expect us to do in return is therefor in our own best interests. Using secular stories ie political, economic, security, legal and spiritual stories ie religious, with reward and punishment themes, the ruling classes divide the rest of us into so many different nation states, ethnic cultures, religious beliefs, and socio economic classes that their control over us is almost guaranteed. While ecological, biological and environmental diversity is essential for our survival as a species and while cultural diversity has and can be good for our human development, unfortunately the ruling classes have long since perfected their ability to manipulate these phenomena via their primary strategy of ‘divide and conquer’, hence their need to continue persuading the rest of us to forget that we are planetary, that we are in fact related to each other.

When considering the ruling class strategy of divide and conquer, the rest of us do well to remember that most of our early human development including our emerging spiritual awareness – our learning how to relate to other and all-that-is, and our more fundamental material inventions such as tool making, symbolic, verbal and written expression, took place during a period when resources were shared and people cooperated with each other as a matter of survival. Moreover, we can think of this as a period of creative human development that took place without the encumbrance of the yet to emerge ruling classes, without their cleverly thought out jealous god stories, without their nation states and without their standing armies. This creative pre ruling class period is genetically remembered by every cell in our body as a period when the personal, the spiritual and the political was experienced as planetary, this is the way we were throughout our early human development.

If as a species we want a to secure a future for our descendants that does not depend on gratuitous violence as a means of resolving conflict – at any level, we must first rid ourselves of the existing ruling classes. The logic of a planetary ruling class divided into competing, conflicting, warring nation states must be replaced with the logic of a democratic, class free planetary society. The logic of a global system of production, distribution and consumption based on the accumulation of profit and wealth that mainly benefits a small minority ruling class must be replaced with the logic of a global system of production, distribution and consumption that meets the needs of the whole of society. What we all – including the so-called ruling classes, now need is a democratic planetary social system that is capable of being environmentally safe and viable for all future generations.

Thanks to my daily and seasonal PaGaian practice of celebrating cosmic creativity in general and our planet’s Earth/Sun/Moon relationship in particular, I can safely claim that for me the personal and the spiritual is first and foremost planetary. Until recently I had almost given up on the idea of a political story that I could relate to as planetary, then I came across the World Socialist Web Site WSWS.org and the International Committee of the Fourth International ICFI with its Social Equality Party SEP. I have even gone so far as to start referring to myself as a born again PaGaian Trotskyist.

More of my journeying into the political as planetary can be found at malpataffy.com

 

Taffy Seaborne

Southern Autumn 2014