The Roots of Resistance: An Intense Journey Into The Vibrant Complexity Of Nonviolent Change by Tom Atlee

The Roots of Resistance by Rivera Sun

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

Sent to Dandelion Salad by Rivera Sun

by Tom Atlee
March 17, 2018

Rivera Sun always gifts us with usefully creative fiction in the face of daunting challenges to future generations, to current society, to marginalized communities, and to all of us as citizens of our planet. Her Roots of Resistance – the second novel of her Dandelion Trilogy – offers an inspiring story to help guide love-based strategic change efforts during what promises to be a very messy transition to a better world. The novel imagines deeply human responses to our civilizational predicament and to the challenges we (especially as change agents) will face as we try to put such responses into practice.

This novel takes seriously the idea not only that we face innumerable societal problems – especially in vulnerable marginalized communities (those sizzling cauldrons of possibility) – but also that we are heading into increasing systemic dysfunction – that our traditional mainstream institutions, systems, and power centers are – at the very best – not able to competently and fairly deal with these challenges – and, at worst, are actively generating greater injustice and suffering. Some of the players in that high drama are playing their roles selfishly and intentionally. Others – civil servants, waitresses, programmers, truck drivers – are just caught up in a business-as-usual system that is designed for short-term, unjust and problematic outcomes that especially benefit a few elites. From a strategic nonviolence perspective, the former need to be shown they will not be allowed to function normally, while the latter need to be invited – sometimes through provocative demonstrations of powerful caring – into another way of being and operating that holds promise for a better world. And that can involve individual and collective activities that thoroughly gum up the workings of the Mainstream Machine – which, incidentally, makes for a fascinating weave of unfolding plot lines!

It doesn’t require great literature to draw us into this narrative. It just takes a really good storyteller who knows what she is talking about and can carry us along a compelling thread of adventure that makes us want to keep at it to see what happens next – partly because it may well happen to us soon in real life. It takes a storyteller like Rivera Sun who inspires us to rise to the challenge as her characters do, because her stories tell us how.

Into her narratives Rivera Sun – who is, after all, a skilled nonviolence trainer – weaves deep knowledge of the energetics, possibilities and challenges of nonviolent struggle with the complex, varied, and emotionally intense lived experience of real people caught up in the dynamic tensions of that struggle. Her characters – from dedicated activists to ambitious politicians to ordinary folks and a strange volunteer bodyguard – are lifted from real life and their tactics, strategies, and shifting perspectives and motivations have been discussed by activists and academics for decades. We see many of those conversations reflected in the book’s dialogue – notably the incredibly important and challenging issue of what constitutes violence and where – if anywhere – it fits in a strategic nonviolent movement. We also see debate over whether and how to collaborate with members of the establishment who act like they’re friends, and how fraught with opportunity and danger such collaborations can be.

For many such issues there are no obvious answers. The “struggle” in nonviolent struggle is not only between the movement and its opponents, but within the movement, and within the hearts and minds of every person involved, on all sides. Rivera Sun’s continual return to love as the primary touchstone – the source of both the power and wisdom of nonviolence – offers a glimpse of where the elusive answers may lie. But only a glimpse, because it turns out that even love is an ambiguous, intuitive guide when the challenges of relationship and strategy intensify to the breaking point. We see a lot of that here.

This is not a quiet, peaceful book. It is a book of questions and challenges, subterfuge and sudden transformations, disagreements and failures, insights and obliviousness, with visions and values dancing together in every corner of the story. The complexity of real life is abundantly on display, as are the heights of clarity and caring.

Rivera Sun’s descriptive language is intense, lyric, sometimes mystical, magical, almost psychedelic. It made me dance between dismissing it as overdone and examining the quality of my own experience, wondering how much I subdue my own wildly surging aliveness. To look at the world through Rivera Sun’s eyes is to see things with a vivid brilliance appropriate for someone with such a solar name and spirit!

I suspect the ideal role for Rivera Sun’s books – including notably this one – is to stimulate conversations about who we are in the world and why, and how we may want to take action because of that. And then to act, to live with open heart into her empowering stories of change.

PS: I highly recommend reading her prelude, The Dandelion Insurrection, first. (Much of what I say in this review applies just as well to that book, subtitled “Love and revolution”.) And I invite you to join me in looking forward eagerly to her final book in the trilogy.

Tom Atlee is vice president and research director of the Co-Intelligence Institute, and the author of numerous books on social change agentry, including Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics and Reflections on Evolutionary Activism: Essays, Poems and Prayers from an Emerging Field of Sacred Social Change.

Roots of Resistance is now available on Rivera Sun’s website and in ebook and print formats on Amazon and all major online bookstores!

from the archives:

Rivera Sun’s The Roots of Resistance, reviewed by Guadamour

All Must Be Unleashed To Rouse Our Fellow Humanity From Their Stupor As They Sleepwalk Toward The Cliff Edge

A Revolution By Any Other Name

Now Is The Time For Revolutionary Change–Reject Greed-Based Destruction

Make No Mistake: The Rule Of The Rich Has Been A Deadly Epoch For Humanity

Rivera Sun’s The Dandelion Insurrection reviewed by Guadamour

20 thoughts on “The Roots of Resistance: An Intense Journey Into The Vibrant Complexity Of Nonviolent Change by Tom Atlee

  1. Pingback: The Phoenix Moment, by Rivera Sun – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: The Democracy Lab, by Rivera Sun – Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: Visionary Inspiration and Practical Strategies for Direct Democracy: Winds of Change Book Review, by Marissa Mommaerts – Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: The Problem is Civil Obedience by Howard Zinn + Damon Reads from Howard Zinn’s Speech – Dandelion Salad

  5. Pingback: The Murmuration + The Winds of Change are Blowing! by Rivera Sun – Dandelion Salad

  6. Pingback: Rise and Resist! – Dandelion Salad

  7. Pingback: Chris Hedges, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese: The Mechanics of Rebellion – Dandelion Salad

  8. Pingback: Unplugged For 14 Days by Lo – Dandelion Salad

  9. Pingback: Wisdom: A Force Unstoppable – Dandelion Salad

  10. Pingback: Going Horizontal: Written for Workplaces; Perfect for Activists by Rivera Sun – Dandelion Salad

  11. Pingback: The Time Is Up–The Time Is Now – Dandelion Salad

  12. Pingback: A Revolution of Democracy – Dandelion Salad

  13. Pingback: Beyond Voting by Howard Zinn + What Else You Can Do: 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action by David Swanson – Dandelion Salad

  14. Pingback: Be Realistic–Demand the Impossible! – Dandelion Salad

  15. Pingback: Liberty and Strategy for All – Dandelion Salad

  16. Pingback: MFTN: Poverty Will Kill More Of Us Than Terrorism – Dandelion Salad

  17. Pingback: How to Fight a Tyrant – Dandelion Salad

  18. Pingback: Dandelions and Plunder Monkeys by System Humanity – Dandelion Salad

  19. Pingback: Shifting Systems With Nonviolent Strategy + Think Outside the Protest Box by Rivera Sun – Dandelion Salad

  20. Pingback: The Problem is Civil Obedience – Dandelion Salad

Comments are closed.