The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
February 23, 2014
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. The novel can be found at http://www.riverasun.com/online-store/the-dandelion-insurrection/.
Enough! Enough of this senseless criticizing of one another. A Dandelion Insurrectionist who is imprisoned and beaten by the police is no more revolutionary than the mother who gets up in the morning and feeds her child. We all have tasks that are imperatives of our times and we must do them with humility. Those of us trying to make change through civil resistance are no nobler than the plumber trying to clear the shit out of the pipes.
So, enough of this criticizing one another about who is or is not a revolutionary, a radical, a cop-out, or who isn’t sacrificing enough to the cause, or who is playing it safe, or who lacks courage, or who is too middle of the road, or too extreme, or too cautious, or too colonized, or too oppressed, or who isn’t enough like you to be worthy of your respect.
We will criticize ourselves to death.
We will literally be facing the firing squad, sneering at who flinches, who looks away, who weeps, or who pisses themselves. This animosity toward one another is poisonous. Such malicious judgment cripples our struggle every step of the way. It is shameful; it is laughable. It is certainly not revolutionary.
Using our differences to divide us is an old trick. We love to blame it on our oppressors, but the truth is, it succeeds because we allow it. I have heard the accusations that They are dividing us, They send undercover agents into our midst to inflame our animosity toward each other. Let me ask you: if the kindling were not laid in our hearts, where would the sparks of division ignite? If you stood ready with the bucket of your awareness and used it douse the smoldering disdain within you, how could their agitation succeed? If we removed the logs and the stones of the fireplace, there would be no place for division to catch fire.
All across the country, this internal scorn is plaguing the Dandelion Insurrection. The radicals sneer at the mainstream; the working class bristles at the academics; the students scoff at the grey-hairs, the elders tear out their thinning hair over the impulsive foolishness of the youth, the spiritual faction derides the shallowness of the non-believers, the secular crowd rolls their eyes at the prayer circles, the communists argue with the capitalists, the socialists turn up their noses at both, the anarchists get haughty at the organizers, the non-profit leaders cringe at the anti-establishment types….
This is no way to run our everyday society, let alone a nonviolent struggle against the powerful corporate-political elite.
There is a place for honest critique, but the use of antagonistic scorn to deride one another is crippling our movement. At this rate, we will be standing on the steps of the Capitol, bitter with each other, jealous of who propelled the final thrust of the movement, suspicious of who will sell-out to the establishment, congratulating our closest companions for their brilliance while secretly sneering I told you so at everyone else. Instead of heartfelt celebration of our collective accomplishment, we will be wracked by the same animosity that plagues us now.
At present, however, criticism is so pervasive that our success seems unlikely. Scorn and derision are sabotaging everything we are working toward. Our ability to cooperate is being compromised. Our effectiveness at collaborative strategies is being undermined by our snobbery toward one another.
This must change. We need to practice revolutionary respect for one another. We need to celebrate the contributions of childrearing, garden planting, and protesting equally. Organizing a demonstration is no more important than organizing a prayer vigil. Painting a banner and repainting the local school are both efforts for the wellbeing of all. Hidden in our differences is a beautiful diversity that enriches our lives and expands our minds. Belittling someone for their beliefs, their style of dress, or their political views is limiting and no less discriminatory than sneering at a person’s color of skin.
A free, democratic society relies on a respect that extends beyond the right to hold views to the holder of those views. We have been taught that in order for our belief to be valid, we must stamp out and eliminate all other perspectives, but this is tyranny of the mind. Democracy is based on our ability to discuss our differing beliefs without prejudice, to make room in our society for the expression of ideas and opinions, and to respect one another as equals. The equality of a democratic society begins within us. If respect does not blossom there, then it will not be exhibited in our society or government. We must, as Gandhi famously said, be the change we wish to see in the world.
The revolution must begin within each of us.
Author/Actress Rivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to her most recent novel, 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. http://www.riverasun.com
from the archives:
Thoreau Is Still Relevant by Henry Pelifian
We Are a Movement of Movements by Rivera Sun
The Day We Fight Back: The Hacker Wars (featuring Chris Hedges) + Omnipotent #WaveOfAction: Be The Change
The Man From the North: Dandelions in Disguise by Rivera Sun
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There is a weekly debate prog. on Radio 4 (BBC) called the Moral Maze. Tonight they were discussing “the morality of nationalism,” and it raised a number of pertinent questions about the way we govern ourselves and how the relationship between the state and the individual is really configured, and why.
Once we begin to examine such fundamental issues, the whole way the world is organized comes into question.
I think the really revolutionary idea that is emerging now, and has come into much sharper focus due to the collective experience of the past 100 years (of ever more extremely destructive exponential warfare,) is the notion of the right of the individual to complete self-determination ~ no matter where they live, who they are or what their status in life may be.
What I see as lacking in the way we frame this concept for intelligent discussion in dynamic, empirical contexts, is the reluctance to admit that this is our basic spiritual right; that is to say, a truly generic human entitlement because it is our spiritual endowment from birth
I do not accept that anyone can dictate to another what their legitimate purpose is, how their spiritual agendas should be chosen or what they should think. We may inquire intelligently and respectfully; but we have no business restricting the actual functioning of another persons ethical will.
Of course, this presupposes a certain degree of moral, psychological and philosophical engagement by individuals in their own person-hood (& environment.).
We cannot assume that each and every individual necessarily has the capacity to determine their own spiritual outcomes ~ far from it; for that must require some kind of enlightened education and a conscious commitment on the part of the educated to embark on an appropriate contractual initiative that entails self-knowledge, and reflexive development.
Be that as it may, the principle still holds, that we respect their right to make that choice and do not interfere.
As I see it, once we acknowledge the legitimacy and integrity of that position, the world should conform automatically to its moral economy.
Beautiful — this is what I want with my whole heart for our society: Democracy is based on our ability to discuss our differing beliefs without prejudice, to make room in our society for the expression of ideas and opinions, and to respect one another as equals. Can we do it?
From Facebook, comment #1:
“We have been taught that in order for our belief to be valid, we must stamp out and eliminate all other perspectives”……not in my world. Surely this is only in the most fundamentally tribal mind training.
Interesting notion, that the stamping out is a “tribal mind training”. It is quite prevalent in modern society. Our debates are arguments. Discussion generally devolves into disproving the other’s viewpoint rather than listening and considering. Is it a tribal mentality? It is a dominator mentality, which does not seem limited to tribal arrangements. In fact, the modern nation states seem to exhibit the stamping out of beliefs mentality quite strongly.
Thanks for responding, Rivera. I also have a question: Who are these “fundamentally tribal” groups?
Facebook comment #1’s reply:
I objected to your black and white statement..” “We have been taught that in order for our belief to be valid, we must stamp out and eliminate all other perspectives”…this may be true for some and there are plenty of others who have been taught to accept, invite others views and beliefs. And yes I would say the above statement sounds tribal. Our safety was dependant on like mindedness. Enemy tribes were fought or eliminated, individuality was not tolerated. This is not the case today we have plenty of freedom to be individuals, to be exposed more than ever before to many different points of view. Simply by exploring the Internet, fb and other social media sites we are thrown out of our echo chambers and into a dizzying variety of views. We all can learn from each others views, beliefs.
Apologies Lo, but I don’t understand the references to this comment, can you enlarge upon whose it is, & where it is?
It’s from an anonymous person who posted the comments on a link on Facebook. She said that she couldn’t comment here because she had to “register” first (which is NOT true). That’s why I made the blog post “How to Comment…”.