Metta’s Opinion

The Man From the North: Story 6

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 story below is one of several written by the Man From the North. The article series is not included in the novel and was originally published on Dandelion Salad. We will feature a Man From the North story on a weekly basis through June 3, 2015. You can read the entire series at Dandelion Salad. The Dandelion Insurrection and a companion study guide can be purchased on Rivera’s website.


Impossible Courage

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 SunRivera 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. Learn more about Rivera and her work on her website.

 

 

Time to Indigenize American Education

In the outstanding book Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education, Four Arrows (Don Trent Jacobs) and his fellow authors provide a revelatory opportunity for us teachers to get to the heart of what is important in education. Being indigenous, Four Arrows explains in an interview with Derrick Jensen, “relates to a nature-based reality that is so very different from the dominant cultural one.” The book is all about how to help your students see another way of being, based on the worldview of traditional indigenous people of the United States, that challenges and opposes the mindset presented in textbooks, standards and mass media by the dominant culture and educational hegemony.

adult-education-379219_640Four Arrows offers many examples of this, including other ways to perceive economics (traditional cultures had gift economy based on the fundamental value of generosity) and math (he says we could use word problems to solve the world’s crises), but one of my favorites is Helen Keller. Most history books mention Helen Keller only briefly, and even then as an example of how you can rise above your shortcomings. These textbooks never mention her vital roles in the women’s suffrage movement, the socialist party and the radical labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World. “These were intentionally left out of most curricula because having a ‘hero’ with this history is not in the interest of the growing corporatist ‘ruling’ class,” writes Four Arrows. He advocates for history lessons that teach through stories, connecting with our ancestors and showing how we can learn from them to create a better future that is not bound by the ruling cultures of the past.

And let’s face it, our educational system needs its hegemony dismantled. We are at the mercy now of an all-powerful agent of knowledge and wisdom: the standardized test. It is the be-all, end-all of student achievement and knowledge. What is true for the test is true for our students, and they become the products of this test. There becomes only one way of writing an essay or answering a question because that is the way to get it right on the test. But we are in a time now where we need to question the hegemony of the world more than ever. With California drying out and Florida about to sink underwater, poisons in our water and species dying, we need to unleash the creativity, wisdom and passion of today’s youth on the world’s problems, not indoctrinate them into the system that created them.

So take a moment, in the testing season before us this spring, to challenge the reality presented by the educational hegemony. Encourage your students to ask questions about the way things are and challenge them to learn the whole story, not just the reality presented in their textbooks. Bring some wonder back into your classroom. Indigenize their minds.

Introducing… Ellie Cross

Ellie CrossEllie Cross is interested in using art as a problem-solving tool to create a more just world.

A native of Seattle, WA, Ellie has painted murals designed to raise environmental consciousness in Malaysia, Thailand, Guatemala and the U.S. Her research in art activism and education has taken her to Ghana and Tibetan exile communities in Nepal, India and Tibet. Her work in the visual arts has included teaching children in Cambodia, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

She earned a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College in Claremont, CA (2007) and studied water color, pastel, ceramics, perspective drawing and woodblock printmaking at Gage Academy in Seattle (2010-11). During her three years in in Mumbai, India (2011-2014), she learned about folk art and enameling techniques from local artists. “In my daily work of making art with kids,” she said, “I continue to learn about the power of imagination, the durability of creativity and the tactile joy of the process.”

A few of Ellie’s illustrations will appear in our relaunch issue of Emergence, which will be published in June. View Ellie’s portfolio at www.artworkworks.com.


How did you first hear about Metta Center for Nonviolence?

A few months ago, a dear friend set me a link to the website and the work really resonated with me.

What first inspired you to see art as a tool for change?

My original appreciation for the power of art as a tool for social change is founded on the research I conducted with Tibetan exile communities while studying abroad in Nepal, India and Tibet.

I actually began my research studying how the Tibetan culture was being commodified by the West for consumption. My cynicism was inconsistent with the interviews I conducted, however, and I found instead that refugees were using art to creatively solve a myriad of problems they faced while living in exile.

mural el salvadorThis work provided a solid foundation as I continued my research and facilitated community-based art projects in Ghana the following semester. Under the mentorship of a local artist and educator, I began by interviewing locals about pressing environmental issues in the area. We concurrently paired with a neighborhood school to provide art instruction to a group of underserved adolescents. Based on interview results and the kids’ ideas, the students designed meaningful environmental messages to paint on a new public dumpster.  We ended the day and solidified our understanding with a beach cleanup.  The art workshops culminated in a mural we painted at the kids’ school with a message of responsibility and empowerment: “We create our future.”

How did you come to realize that art is your key contribution?

I had an amazing arts teacher in kindergarten who nurtured my creativity and empowered me to see myself as an artist.  As I grew up and became aware of the many systems of violence and oppression operating in our world, I felt an increasing need to find ways to work with others to address and dismantle what bell hooks calls the “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

My artistic practice is greatly influenced by an effort to reconcile these two factors: finding ways to integrate my innate passion for visual art with a desire to work for social and environmental justice for all.

Where do the power of art and the power of nonviolence meet for you?

I am a firm believer that creativity is a powerful counterforce to destruction, and that part of the strength of art as a tool is that it works in mysterious ways to promote inner peace for individuals while bringing communities together in a manner that transcends the traditional limitations we face when trying to dismantle oppressive systems.

Can you offer us any insights about the roles art can play in activism and education, particularly among communities living in deep poverty?

As a white American traveling abroad, I am wary of the tendency for my volunteer work to become paternalistic. Art feels like a ideal tool for activism and education because it’s simply my personal path of following my bliss and sharing that with others around me. Without needing to force anything or push an agenda of “helping” others, I find that community art projects are effortlessly influential in subtle ways. The simple act of painting with the children of sex workers on their shelter walls creates an atmosphere of joy that speaks for itself. The kids are empowered by having volunteers assist them in their work. The fact that the space is brightened by the art is just a bonus. Part of the power of the work is that I don’t fully understand it, but I can feel it working.

If you were to summarize your art into a central message, what would it be—and to whom would it speak?

Art, be it performance or visual, is a dynamic tool which can be tapped to address a wide variety of issues facing our world today. I hope it would speak to everyone, but we all hear messages when and how we need to, so I suppose it’s for whomever it resonates with at this moment.

The Man From the North: Story 5

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 story below is one of several written by the Man From the North. The article series is not included in the novel and was originally published on Dandelion Salad. We will feature a Man From the North story on a weekly basis through June 3, 2015. You can read the entire series at Dandelion Salad. The Dandelion Insurrection and a companion study guide can be purchased on Rivera’s website.


Wisdom: A Force Unstoppable

“Look out upon this nation and tell me what you see,” a friend once said to me.

I told her I saw anger, hunger, poverty, senselessness, fear, sick and worried people, hatred twisting faces, greed stuffing overfull guts, ignorance regurgitating lies, well-intentioned impotence, self-centered passivity, and, beyond this roiling sea of humanity’s foibles, I saw my opponents lined up to massacre us all.

“Until you look out and see yourself as that,” she answered, “your revolution is going to fail.”

Nothing irks a young man’s temper than a dose of wisdom flying over his head. I retorted that loving my enemies was a good way to end up dead.

“So is hating them,” she countered.

Six to one, half dozen to the other, I told her. Since it’s all the same, I’d just as soon lambast my opponents before they shoot me in the back.

“It’s not the same,” she argued. “Hate your enemies, and they’ll kill you. Love your enemies, and you stand a chance to live.”

How? I challenged her. Don’t give me martyrdom and immortality and Jesus loved his enemies and resurrected from the grave. That’s not enough for me. It’s not enough to become a saint. It’s not enough to lose, even if I stay alive. I want to win. In this struggle against corporate-political tyranny, we are outmatched economically, logistically, militarily, in the laws, resources, and authority, but the prospect of a lifetime of suffering and servitude revolts me. I would rather wage struggle and die.

“You can win,” she replied with certainty, “but you will need to cultivate a resource your opponents cannot tap: wisdom.”

There is a type of wisdom revealed through love, she tells me, and this wisdom is a force, unstoppable. Intelligence can formulate strategy . . . but wisdom explains why soldiers lay down their guns. Information can line up facts, but wisdom reveals why ordinary people move into action. Statistics can tell you how the odds are stacked against you, but wisdom provides the level that can shift the scale.

But, there is a catch, my friend explains. Wisdom will only come to those who open their hearts, for compassion is the key to perception.

“When you look out at the world and see only enemies to fight, you imagine a chasm of morality that separates them from you. When you look out with love, your compassionate eyes see ordinary people with strengths, insecurities, weaknesses, stubbornness, fears, and thoughts, and desires. You see your connection to all of these people, and then, your connection to all of creation.”

Wisdom is nothing more than seeing reality clearly. Not just the facts, numbers, and atomized objects, but the threads of connection that bind us together. It shows the reasons why civil servants obey the commands of the dictators and the ways we can persuade them to stop. It shows the rise of dissension in the internal ranks of the elite, and the moment when we can split them apart. Wisdom reveals every elusive thread of connection that brings people together or moves them away.

This is one resource in which we can outmatch our opponents, for they have forfeited this knowledge through greed.

While they may perceive the threads of connection among those they admire, their scorn of the masses prevents them from seeing the forces that propel us into action. Cruelty, greed, and callousness blind them to the motivations of ordinary people. Anger and hatred slam shut the doors of their perception, and they fail to see the causes of revolution. In scorn and fear, they have transformed ordinary people into a faceless, nameless, terrifying mass that must, by all means, be subdued.

Yet, every action they take, from cutting public funding to forcing people into poverty, hording the wealth, and destroying the earth leads inexorably toward the necessity of revolution. They arm themselves, prepare for battle, build up security, and invest in surveillance. They train police to shoot citizens, put drones in the sky, and roll tanks down the streets . . . but every maneuver of fear, every tactic of greed, cuts them off further from their only salvation.

They must take care of the people.

Nothing else will stop our uprising. They will use violence and imprisonment, but that will not stop us for long. They will outlaw our very lives, but we will live in defiance. They will do everything except for the one thing that will bring us to peace: bring compassion to the forefront of politics.

It is so simple once you see it. Compassion could prevent revolution. But when the authorities engage in causing the suffering of millions, love propels ordinary people to take action against them. When children starve and old women suffer; when men work hard for nothing but pittances; when hunger knocks on every door; when water is poisoned for profit . . . then the people must rise up for justice.

And when people answer the call of their hearts, wisdom comes to their aid. Compassion reveals interconnections; connections are what move change through the world. Wisdom arises from seeing the web of reality clearly. Such perceptions bring strength to our cause.

So start training in love, my friends, although that may sound strange. Wisdom is a door unlocked by the heart; freedom is what lies beyond. The struggle ahead will be won through this knowledge; our opposition has forfeited its strength. They can analyze us with their cold, cruel minds, but our determined compassion will move forward, unstoppable.

Be kind. Be connected. Be unafraid.


Rivera SunRivera 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. Learn more about Rivera and her work on her website.

 

 

The Man From the North: Story 4

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 story below is one of several written by the Man From the North. The article series is not included in the novel and was originally published on Dandelion Salad. We will feature a Man From the North story on a weekly basis through June 3, 2015. You can read the entire series at Dandelion Salad. The Dandelion Insurrection and a companion study guide can be purchased on Rivera’s website.


How to Fight a Tyrant

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.

 


Rivera SunRivera 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. Learn more about Rivera and her work on her website.

 

“Chapati and Aloo” – A Story for Children

People of all ages learn through stories, and you can bring lessons about nonviolence into the classroom through the art of storytelling. Consider memorizing a story about nonviolence, either from real life or made up, and try telling it without reading from a book so you engage more with the students in front of you. You might also begin with an image or a photograph. Pass it around and then tell them that you will tell a story about that photo… Don’t forget to get creative: use different voices, incorporate song and movement, and follow their interest with improvisation where possible. 

Here is one that I learned that originates in India, which I heard in a talk given by the late meditation teacher, Sri Eknath Easwaran:

stevemccurryindia3-1One sunny day, a sage, or wise person, was sitting underneath a tree for shade, with a delicious yet simple lunch of potatoes and chapati (a kind of Indian bread) spread out on a banyan leaf before him. He closed his eyes to say his blessing and express his gratitude for his food.

A little boy spotted the sage with his eyes closed. The little boy did not have any food for lunch or any money to buy any. He thought to himself, “If that man will not eat his food quickly enough, sitting there all day with his eyes closed, I will eat his food for him.” He tiptoed over stealthily to where the sage was sitting and grabbed the chapati.

The sage opened his eyes, and startled the boy, who began running away, chapati still in hand. As he was in excellent physical condition, the sage jumped up and began running after him. He finally caught up with the boy who was frightened. He did not expect that an old sage would be able to catch up to him!

Trembling, he held out his hands with the chapati, and said in a quiet voice, “Here are your chapati, are you going to hit me?”

The sage laughed, “Hit you? What do you mean? Look here, I’ve brought you the potatoes. You cannot eat chapati without potatoes.”

As the boy ate his meal, the sage smiled. He was happy.

After you tell the story in your own way to the children, make sure to ask them questions about what happened, any lessons we can learn, and other nonviolence related take aways.

The Man From the North: Story 3

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 story below is one of several written by the Man From the North. The article series is not included in the novel and was originally published on Dandelion Salad. We will feature a Man From the North story on a weekly basis through June 3, 2015. You can read the entire series at Dandelion Salad. The Dandelion Insurrection and a companion study guide can be purchased on Rivera’s website.


Shopping as an Act of Resistance

The holidays are at hand. Boycott Season is in effect. As the snow starts to fall, the commercial war of the season asserts its dominance. Our identities as citizens are quickly buried in a blizzard of advertising that defines us as consumers.

We are occupied territory for the corporate regime. Our option is to resist.

Across the nation, members of the Dandelion Insurrection are using the holiday season as an opportunity for active resistance. Due to corporate influence on politics, the struggle for effective political power has shifted out of offices and Congressional Halls and into the capitalistic marketplace. If we wish to undermine the strength of the corporations, we must look away from the corrupt seats of power where special interests are entrenched by campaign financing and lobbyists. Instead, we must look for the places where the corporations are vulnerable. We must study their blind spots and Achille’s heels. We must look deeply into the financial ties of one corporate entity to another. We must examine the consumer supports that prop up their economic power. We must also look for opportunities to aikido their weighty offensives and bring the corporations to their knees.

One of these is Christmas. The economic driver of a dozen names is a holiday season that embraces diversity as a commercial tactic, manipulating Jews, Christians, and atheists alike to spend money in the pursuit of happiness. Our shared virtues of generosity, charity, and gift giving are held hostage by corporate tyranny. The season sublimates our highest principles into strengthening the destructive, corporate elite. The holidays provide a pillar of support that prop up the year-round manipulations of corporations. We must consciously erode this support and build foundations of our own.

Local businesses, small enterprises, artisan goods, handmade gifts, home made presents, worker-cooperatives, and conscious businesses are the future of a just and equitable American economy. While we strive to end corporate control of politics, we must do our best to grow alternative businesses as a form of support. These kinds of enterprises not only strive toward a vision of sustainable economy, they also provide potential foundations of strength for the resistance to corporate tyranny. For this alliance to develop, shopping for holiday gifts in these alternative businesses must also be paired with a willingness to discuss the reasons for your actions.

We are not sanctimonious, conscious consumers patting ourselves on our goody-two-shoes backs.

We are a coordinated, strategic resistance to the rule of mega-corporations and the empowered wealthy class. We support these alternative forms of business not only out of moral reasons, but also for strategic purposes. We must be prepared to sustain the basic needs and necessities of the people: food, water, energy, shelter, capital, transportation, and communication. This is a necessity of waging successful struggle to shift political power back into the hands of the people. The entrenched corporate elite use economic sanctions and their control of law to repress our efforts. They will systematically attempt to impoverish us. They will cut off our access to support. They will strive to break our movement by demoralizing and “starving us out” both literally and metaphorically.

The establishment of strong alternative social institutions and organizations to provide basic necessities is a requirement for our success.

Furthermore, if we are successful at crumbling current corporate control of basic goods and services, then the alternatives must be ready to step forward and replace them. Our local businesses, regional farms, transportation, energy, and communications services must be able to fill in the vacuum left by crumbling mega-corporations.

The nuts-and-bolts of these lofty strategic ideals can be found in the context of our holiday shopping. Use the gathering of gifts as an opportunity to open dialogue with local businesses. Explain your reasons for supporting them. Tell them how your choices are rooted in an understanding that the socio-political rule of mega-corporations is causing destruction to people and the planet. Let them know that you consider small, local businesses an integral part of the movement to change our untenable situation.

And consider yourself fortunate to be resisting in this way.

This holiday season, our unfortunate – but powerful – ally in the efforts to undermine corporate rule is the grim figure of poverty too many of us face. Nearly 50% of our fellow Americans live at – or below – international standards of poverty. The starkness of this must be grasped. The United Nations statistics are based on “having enough to survive on and a little bit more”. Our country is considered one of the wealthiest nations in the world . . . yet half of our populace does not make enough to survive.

Despite this, corporate tyranny harasses the poor relentlessly during the holiday season. They are subject to shame and inferiority, accused of selfishness and cold-heartedness, humiliated by national leaders for being lazy and not working hard enough, subjected to lectures about fiscal management, and unjustly chastised for being wasteful of money during the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, the mega-corporations and the super wealthy proudly flaunt their charitable donations. They self-righteously laud themselves for providing “affordable options” for the average American. They throw galas and fundraisers and toast to the New Year, draping themselves in extravagance.

Never once do they mention the complicity of their corporations in causing the impoverishment of millions! Never once do they confess to the political policies that stretch soup kitchen lines down the block. Never once do the mega-corporations consider paying their workers a living wage. Never once do the super-wealthy propose tax measures that would reinvest their fortunes into prosperity for all Americans!

Instead, they perpetuate the abject lie that poverty is the result of laziness.

Fifty percent of Americans are not lazy, my friends. I can guarantee that. Poverty is the grim, austere ally in our resistance to corporate domination. Half of our populace can no longer afford to support Christmas. But although poverty has ended much of our nation’s willful participation in excess consumerism, the people have yet to give full support to the resistance. Poverty constrains them, frightens them, and forces them into subjugation to the power of the elite.

This is why I urge the conscious resisters of the Dandelion Insurrection to transform poverty’s constraints into an active boycott of mega-corporations for holiday shopping. A boycott may be largely symbolic for those who have nothing to spend . . . but if even a few souls avoid the enslavement of holiday credit card debt, then the reframing of poverty is worth it. A boycott of tyranny strengthens us all, empowering us through a simple switch in perspective. We are not ashamed to be poor non-participants in Christmas . . . we are proud to be actively resisting the corporations that subject millions to suffering!

And if we are fortunate enough to have some resources to spend, let us apply it to building the foundations for change. For all of us, the holiday season is a major opportunity to wage resistance to the corporate empire’s take-over of our nation. Let us not forfeit a moment, a dollar, or a single word of conversation during this time of active engagement.

If you have nothing, wage an act of resistance: boycott!

If you have something, wage an act of resilience: strengthen our allies for struggle.

And in every interaction during the holiday madness, remember the greatest resistance to tyranny. In all of your words, actions, and deeds . . . be kind, be connected, and be unafraid!

 


Rivera SunRivera 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. Learn more about Rivera and her work on her website.

 

The Man From the North: Story 2

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 story below is one of several written by the Man From the North. The article series is not included in the novel and was originally published on Dandelion Salad. We will feature a Man From the North story on a weekly basis through June 3, 2015. You can read the entire series at Dandelion Salad. The Dandelion Insurrection and a companion study guide can be purchased on Rivera’s website.


Tis the Season to Wage Boycotts

Boycott Season is now upon us. Let every citizen take careful aim. Your target is the corporate empire. Your weapon is your wallet.

For decades, corporations have defined the battlefield of shopping malls, box stores, mail order catalogues, and online sites. They have set the timeframe back each year; Halloween currently kicks off the battles. You can see the preparations: the lights rolled out, the anthems played, the trees set up like cannons. The enlistment fliers have been posted far and wide: on billboards, in newspapers and magazines. The radio sends out the call: all shoppers to the front! Every family must support the effort and do their patriotic duty. The costs are high; savings must be sacrificed. The debts pile up like soldiers’ bodies, unspeakable.

But it can’t be helped – the holidays fuel our country. Like wars for oil, it’s unavoidable. The politicians break out patriotic speeches to sugarcoat the truth. They profess the noble sentiments of generosity, charity, the gift of giving; they tell us to show our love for home and country by buying useless, needless trinkets. The recruitment posters of Uncle Sam have been revamped; Santa – with the same white whiskers – in a suit of Coca-Cola red, now laughs and smiles, but delivers the same old message:

“I want YOU!” . . . to fight this war.

It’s a corporate war – like every war – fought for profit and commercial gain. Superficial sentiments pour out like propaganda, but the real reasons are the same. Behind the scenes of jolly storefront holiday displays, massive machinations control the spoils of the war. At the end of it all, there is no winner. We’re in the era of modern warfare now. Borderless, pointless, endless warring is a hallmark of our times. By New Year’s though, the casualties are high, and, as always, ordinary people pay the highest price. January finds us crippled, shell-shocked, broke, and not a jot happier or healthier or closer to our families.

And here it comes again . . . hear the little drummer boy calling you to the battle?

Come, they told me, pa-rump-pa-pa-poom.

Religion, remember, is the most touted reason for sending in the troops. You’ll be conscripted under the guise of many beliefs. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa . . . all the celebrations serve to get you shopping. Once you enlist, you give up all sovereignty as a citizen. You’re a consumer-soldier now, under orders to raise your credit card and fire the dollars out like bullets.

Grab your machine guns, shoppers! Black Friday is at hand! The big box stores open up at midnight to send forth the dogs of war! Cry havoc! Riot! See the people trampled, shelves plundered, looting, pushing, shoving, noble sentiments forgotten – that’s how it goes in war!

Does this appall you? Good. I call you to my side. An army of resistance is forming of citizens who refuse to take part in war. Our flag is the Dandelion Insurrection; our cause is the well being of all.

Life! Liberty! Love! That is our rallying cry.

Be kind, be connected, be unafraid! These are the principles that guide us.

We spring up in the cracks of corporate empire. We break through the concrete of control. When the wealthy order us to fight rich men’s war . . . we simply will not go. We boycott greed and tyranny. We put our wallets down. We have no ammunition in them. We refuse to borrow it from their banks. We won’t go into debt to line their pockets. We are citizens first; soldiers never; and consumers only when the cause is just. We remember the oft asked, never answered question: what if they held a war and no one showed up?

The Holiday Season is now upon us, but it’s Boycott Season for us. The corporations have lined up their legions. They have invested their billions in battle. They have poured in their efforts to prepare the parades, ready the marching tunes of carols, and arm the command of salespeople. But the Dandelion Insurrection is ready. Our trump card is in our hand. When they amass on the edge of the battlefield . . .

We simply will not be there.

 


Rivera SunRivera 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. Learn more about Rivera and her work on her website.