To Love This Broken-Hearted Country

Banksy in Boston: F̶O̶L̶L̶O̶W̶ ̶Y̶O̶U̶R̶ ̶D̶R̶E̶A̶M̶S̶ CANCELLED, Essex St, Chinatown, Boston

Image by Chris Devers via Flickr

The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
December 9, 2018

I want to love this broken-hearted country, this land of shattered dreams and dashed hopes. I want to place my ear to the drumming cadence of our cities and hear the insistent pulse of life. I want to wander the forgotten highways of stories that run like wrinkles through our body politic.

Our nation is more than just our headlines. We are the collective sum of all our people, past and present, and as far into our uncertain future as we dare to imagine. We are our stories, sordid and sublime, humble and extraordinary. We are our conversations as we sit on our porches, or crouch on concrete stoops. We are our tragedies and horrors. We are every newborn hope.

We are 320 million inhalations in every moment and 320 million exhales in the next. For every breath that stops, another newborn gasps their first breath. We are all these moments of all our lives, a country of interwoven destinies, breathing in and out together. We are our cruelties and our violence. We are our kindnesses and healings. We are the joyful hitch in a happy step. We are sorrow weighing down our limbs.

I want to fall in love with my country, to remember our saving graces while decrying our failings and injustices. I have reeled in horror at the face of our ugliness; now I long to remember the beautiful again. We are lost without the depth of our souls, the vision of our dreams, the illumination of our hope. We become hollow shells of armor, brittle and empty, fueled by the fumes of rage. The struggle for justice becomes a long, pointless march in which we trudge in darkness through the mud. This is no way to live, no way to fight, no way to strive for change.

Instead, we must sink the roots of our heart and souls into the deep earth of human existence. We must seek out the nourishing ground of love. For every cruelty tossed in our faces, we must grasp the balm of kindness, connection, courage, and caring. These are the truths we stand up for. These are the “country” that we defend, a nation without borders, a place defined by the human heart. These values are the bedrock of what we call justice: the inalienable rights of all humans to live in peace, in hope, in compassion, in a community that dares to respect and even love itself.

Our country has learned to despise itself. Some clutch their race, class, gender and shove everyone else out of their “halluci-nation” of this country. Some include everyone in the shape of their imagined nation, but sneer and degrade the ones they despise. We are a nation divided by our fears and hatred, a nation that cannot bear its truth: we are broken-hearted, battered, terrified by what we are, unable to face the mirror and look our truth in the eye.

Dare to look. Your human soul is strong enough to hold the sorrow, the pain, the shock, the fear that stark and honest truths evoke. Hold your gaze until the “monster” you first perceive shifts, and a deeper layer is revealed. Like the old folktale of Tamlin shape-shifting through bear and beast, snake and lion, be like brave Janet, holding him in her love. Such love will weather the monstrous rages until the truth of our humanness emerges.

We are a nation that needs to love our true selves – not the hubris of our illusions of imperialistic might. We need to discard our arrogant posturing and bullying, and see the wounds and insecurities underneath. We need to let go of our bloated and false pride. We need to love the humbler truths, the hidden stories, the wounded places needing healing. We need to love our children and our elders, our people in all their colors, our artists and our workers, our frail and strong alike. This is the foundation of meaningful change, the commitment to a love strong enough to heal the brokenness, to address our wounds, to speak to our simple human beauties, to remember our kindness and commonalities, to nurture the basic human values that make us truly great. We need to believe in one another, to have faith that we – all 320 million of us – are worth the effort that healing and transformation require.

I want to love this broken-hearted country, this land of shattered dreams and dashed hopes. I want to help us rise, together, and embody our visions of equality and respect, caring and connection, justice and transformation. I want to fall in love again … so that we all might heal and live and change.

Author/Actress Rivera Sun syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance. 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.

See also:

Pioneering Sociologist Foresaw Our Current Chaos 100 Years Ago

from the archives:

A Christmas Journey to Freedom

Our Way Of Life Must Die — Another World Is Possible

The Time Is Up–The Time Is Now

Caleb Maupin: Socialism Will Save America!

Chris Hedges: No Tyranny in History has Crushed the Human Capacity For Love + Love is the Most Potent Enemy of War

The First Thing They Steal Is Courage

Chris Hedges: Confronting the Signs of a Society in Decline

How Can We Face A Future Of Climate Change If We Have Forgotten Our Past? by Lesley Docksey

Peak Moment: Cecile Andrews on Community, Simplicity, Joy and Social Change

The Occupy Movement Builds Democratic Learning/Action Communities By Shepherd Bliss

9 thoughts on “To Love This Broken-Hearted Country

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  5. YES! “I want to love this broken-hearted country, this land of shattered dreams and dashed hopes. I want to help us rise, together, and embody our visions of equality and respect, caring and connection, justice and transformation. I want to fall in love again … so that we all might heal and live and change.” Thank you! Exactly! ❤

  6. I wish it were that easy, but I don’t think it is. I think The Man From The North is deluded when he keeps saying “we,” as though a “we” existed.

    We (okay, there is a “we”) are in a civil war. On one side are the few rich and powerful and greedy, who only want to take, who care nothing for the rest of us, who are cruel to the rest of us without hesitation. On the other side are the many exploited, the dispossessed, the poor, the multitudes — some of whom do not even see that we are in a civil war. Some of them believe themselves alone, in their own private hell.

    We, the exploited, will win if we ever become united, for the exploiters are actually dependent upon us. But we are disunited, as many of us are fooled by stories that the exploiters tell.

    Somehow this essay from TMFTN reminds me of Obama’s speech on race, which he delivered on March 18, 2008, when he was first running for president. He said that the race problem of the USA has not been solved, but that the USA is a great country simply because the race struggle continues, and together we still hope to work things out. At the time, I thought it was a brilliant speech, because it gave Obama a way of being “patriotic” and not anti-American, in a country that has been unspeakably cruel and unfair to people of his color. But that was what he wanted us to think. That what I thought when I had not yet recognized how complete the plutocracy is in this country — something I didn’t fully grasp until a couple of years later; I was still a beginning observer of politics in those days. That speech was part of Obama’s bid to become a figurehead for the plutocracy without ever revealing the true nature of the plutocracy.

    If Obama had been honest, he would have said “there is no ‘we’ — this country is divided, between a few people who have been unspeakably cruel, and their many victims, and my color naturally puts me in the latter class (though it’s certainly not just blacks), and there can be no peace between those two classes until the class of the cruel ceases and surrenders and steps down and pays reparations.” But then he wouldn’t have won, and such honesty and justice were never his intention.

    We are at war; we the underclass are fighting for our very lives. Let’s not pretend otherwise. You can’t shake someone’s hand until =after= he takes his boot off your neck.

    • Hey LeftyMathProf, “we” is always in the eyes of the beholder, and is always illusory. The question is really what lens you choose to look through. The divisions are real. The identity as a nation is also real. In the US, the “we” has always been aspirational. And, like you pointed out, it has been used to gloss over truths. It can also be used to call people to greater connection with each other, more willingness to examine our injustices, and a willingness to consider that our shared humanity demands that “we”, all of us, root out injustice and strive for greater equality, inclusion, understanding, and connection.

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