How to Fight a Tyrant

Fight The Power, Occupy Oakland (17 of 20)

Image by Glenn Halog via Flickr

The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Originally published Dec. 8, 2013
May 17, 2018

It is not enough to hurl your rage at tyranny … every bully knows how to dodge a hothead. Anger is the alcohol of emotions. We flush, courageous in its drunken heat, but our blows miss, we flail, and our opponent easily dispatches us.

I’ve had my share of schoolyard skirmishes. I’ve been provoked and beaten soundly. I’ve swung my fist in honest rage … and missed. More times than I would like to count, my temper tripped me into fights. I won some; I lost others.

I’ve come to this … anger is a weakness.

Some claim it has its purpose. “Righteous” anger is often lauded. Righteous or not, experience warns me that while my anger has served me little … my loss of control has aided my opponent greatly.

My days of playground scuffles are over, but the gang of bullies who now harass me are the greatest tyrants in the world. Their weaponry of authority, military, police, legalities, and money far outstrip the fistfights of my younger days. I cannot afford to take a swing and miss. Yes, I often feel my anger rising; their affronts are worse than when they made catcalls at my mother or whistled at my lover; they’re forcing my fellow men to slave for them, kicking children in the ribs, smacking women across the cheek, starving old ladies, forcing families out of homes, refusing healthcare to the sick – the causes of fury are real and just. Anger boils in me, volcano-like, but I will not let it erupt.

Tyrants easily endure eruptions. Fury falls as impotent as ash. Our opponents will simply flick it aside with self-satisfied smirks, order our people to clean up the broken glass and pools of blood on sidewalks, and continue on as if nothing happened.

No, I will not merely inconvenience them with my eruption. Anger is a force, more powerful when held in check. I’ll convert it into determination, send its pressure underground, shake the foundations of their empire, and create hairline fractures in their fortresses. I will study the structures of their social skyscrapers, find their weaknesses, and erode the pillars that allow tyranny to reign.

Channel your anger into determination for change, my friends. Become a force, unstoppable. Pull fury’s heat deep down inside you. The blaze of anger’s fire can blind you; its smoke obscures the mind. Become a master smith of your emotions. Red flames cannot bend iron … but white-hot coals melt steel. This is the intensity that is required to fight these tyrants. Stark clarity of mind provides power to our actions. The rational mind is our weapon – never let it go! Only a fool would fling it aside and leap at a tyrant with bare fists.

You are no fool, and neither am I. Nor can we call our opponents such. Callous they may be, greedy, cruel, but let no one call them fools. They are sharp, educated, intelligent, cunning, but I will tell you a secret …

The tyrant’s intelligence can count up people; but only wisdom explains what moves them. Brains can order brawn around; but only wisdom reveals what makes people refuse orders. Any tyrant can send soldiers into battle; but wisdom can convince them to lay down their guns.

Intelligence never conquers wisdom … and at this we shall excel.

Author/Actress Rivera Sun syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and has just launched the sequel, The Roots of Resistance, and is the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio. Website:

The Man From the North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance. 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.

from the archives:

Shifting Systems With Nonviolent Strategy + Think Outside the Protest Box by Rivera Sun

The Problem is Civil Obedience by Howard Zinn + Matt Damon Reads from Howard Zinn’s Speech

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

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

We are Hurtling Toward Death–Step Out of Line and Resist

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

End the Occupation of the Corporate State

Corporations Are A Mixture Of Humanity’s Greatest Nightmares


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7 thoughts on “How to Fight a Tyrant

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  6. I agree profoundly with Rivera’s advice. Anger consumes us, however righteous. I’ve been angry for most of my life, at the injustice of tyrannies ~ from the intimately personal, all the way to the crimes of empire and false religion.

    I learned a great lesson from Canadian feminists in the ‘eighties. How to channel (our) rage, and transform it into creative energy. Creativity is a powerful antidote to destructive frustration.

    Those who only live to destroy are sad and sick beings. Even those of us who resist, when we succumb to passionate rage, surrender to the corrosive negative emotion that fuels hatred and self-denial. True self, that is; in the sense of the aspiring soul in quest of meaning and fulfillment.

    True dignity resides in whole expression, and without that we are only partially human.

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