The Man From the North: Impossible Courage by Rivera Sun

The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
December 22, 2013

Be realistic. Demand the impossible.

Image by beelaineo via Flickr

The Man From the North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection. The novel takes place in the near future, in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, when a rising police state controlled by the corporate-political elite have plunged the nation into the grip of a hidden dictatorship. In spite of severe surveillance and repression, the Man From the North’s banned articles circulate through the American populace, reporting on resistance and fomenting nonviolent revolution. This article is one of a series written by The Man From the North, which are not included in the novel, but can be read here.

Wishful thinking and random action will not topple the corrupt and powerful collusion of extreme capitalism, the wealthy elite, and military force. For all the courage shown thus far by people across the country in demonstrating, petitioning, even throwing their bodies in the line of danger, I call upon an even greater courage now …

… the courage to act like we stand a chance of winning.

Desperate acts of valor in the midst of despair, futile symbolic gestures, spontaneous eruptions of anger and violence … none of these require the same courage as sitting down and systematically analyzing how a tiny group of disorganized, overwhelmed, exhausted, contentious, and geographically dispersed people can bring about the downfall of a massive machine of economics, legislations, cultural brainwashing, media domination, law enforcement, surveillance, and military power.

That, my friends, requires the courage to confront the impossible.

It requires that we look unflinchingly at the horrors of this machine. It demands that we examine – and overcome – our own shortcomings. It also requires that we exhibit the bravery of the inventor … one who looks at the impossible and decides it can -and will – be done. The only question is how?

Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”

Inventors possess a great deal of two common human traits: curiosity and persistence. With these, they have flown like birds, split the atom, and landed on the moon – all impossible tasks that have been made possible by the determination to ask the right questions and seek the answers. Libraries have been written about strategies of collapsing empires and waging nonviolent struggle, but the central questions boil down to this:

What are our strengths?

What are our opponents’ weaknesses?

How can we wisely use our strengths to aggravate their weaknesses?

Dare to have the courage to pursue this line of questioning into the gritty details and the complicated picture that arises. Along the way, we might also ask:

What are our weaknesses?

What are our opponents’ strengths?

How can we lessen or eliminate our weaknesses while eroding the strengths of our opponents?

It is cowardice to balk from answering these questions. It is an act of denial and despair to engage in nonviolent struggle without tackling the analysis of strategy. It is ineffectual at best; sheer suicide at worst. Because, be assured, you are not alone in asking these questions. The corporations, the government, and the military all employ full-time staff to ask these questions about us.

At this moment in history, it is clear to all that have a conscience that reform of single issues will not resolve the dire nature of our situation. We must be bold enough to confront the entire collusion of wealthy elite, corporate politics, and military might. We must be determined to follow our questions into uncertain avenues and research the daunting forces that confront us. We must, in the words of Che Guevara …

“Be realistic; demand the impossible!”

Our very lives – and all of earth – may depend on it.

Rivera Sun with her new book, Dandelion Insurrection

Image by Dariel Garner

Author/Actress Rivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to The Dandelion Insurrection, she is the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength. Website:

from the archives:

The Man From the North: Wisdom: A Force Unstoppable by Rivera Sun

The Man From The North: How to Fight a Tyrant by Rivera Sun

Rivera Sun: Non-Violent Insurrection! interviewed by Cindy Sheehan

18 thoughts on “The Man From the North: Impossible Courage by Rivera Sun

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  13. Sound encouragement Rivera.

    I’m convinced the real answer is to organize locally, however modest and simply; invest in your community, share your time, make a genuine commitment, value your imagination and very importantly, empower others by listening and acknowledging their life stories, by treasuring their individual experience.

    Many people have no sense of their own worth and believe they have nothing to contribute. Not true! Inclusion is everything, recognition and encouragement make a huge difference.

    All meaningful activities, even just sincere conversation, it all builds confidence, community cohesion and social coherence.

      • I’m sure you’re right Lo… I have a growing conviction that something is stirring in the heart of humanity; maybe it is a sense of the sanctity of life itself, or just a growing recognition of the need to reclaim a sense of proportion, and truly heed the desperate hunger for a type of cultural stewardship that respects and celebrates moral necessity ~ something we all need, no matter who we are and where we dwell.

        • I think humanity is having a collective near death experience. As we grapple with a sense of mortality – both of our biological/ecological systems that are inherent to our existence and our civilization and modern lifestyles – some of us are heeding those “wake-up calls”. I do think there is a rising sense of the sanctity of life itself, especially as it is threatened on both the micro and the macro. The reflection of individual health challenges in the collapsing economies and struggling ecosystems provides sobering parallels . . . and perhaps a recognition of the interconnection of all things.

        • Thank you for this deep reflection, Rivera.

          I shall be pondering this awhile, & its far-reaching significance. A very interesting allusion.

          As a species we must surely have a survival instinct, so perhaps this is what is awakening, finding expression through a multiplicity of cultural settings and experiential narratives.

          You are enriching the language with your syntax of creative activism, and this is necessarily empowering, since language is such a supreme vehicle of understanding and identity. It is virtually the cognitive tissue of the mind, so the more we converse on these subtle planes, the deeper our metaphysical (inter-) connection.

      • Thanks for posting this link! The Love-In-Action Network is my personal response to the growing crises of our times. As David pointed out, local organizing is key. I also think local re-organizing of all our systems of economy, interaction, and society are essential in addressing our grave national and international issues.

        “(The Love-In-Action Network is) a network of locally organized, interconnected groups dedicated to nonviolent action. The Love-In-Action Network empowers citizens through education, discussion, and action, providing opportunities to collectively and individually study nonviolent action, and preparing for the necessary struggle to ensure our health, well-being, and a future for humanity.”

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