FDL Book Salon Welcomes Rivera Sun, The Dandelion Insurrection: Love and Revolution (novel)
Be kind. Be connected. Be unafraid.
With these three simple tenets, Rivera Sun envisions a peaceful, nonviolent revolution springing from a near future United States just a little bit more repressive than the one we live in today.
The seeds of The Dandelion Insurrection are all around us in our world today. As political dissidents languish in our jails, the laws used to crack down on dissent grow more repressive by the day. So do the lengths which law enforcement and the “justice” system will go to enforce those laws, as long as it is on behalf of the 1%. But on the brighter side of that coin, Sun posits that a nonviolent revolution can only grow from hope, so the seeds for that can also be found in the way technologies are bringing us closer together (when they aren’t being used to separate us) and in the growing number of movements that seek to reconnect local communities with each other and the earth. The seeds can also be seen in the many acts of peaceful, nonviolent resistance to injustice we’ve seen in recent years — though nonviolent, this is far from a passive revolution.
The book follows Charlie Rider, an Acadian journalist. In the time of Insurrection, freedom of speech has gone from being under threat, as it is now, to all but dead. Though it breaks the law, Rider becomes “The Man From the North,” a mysterious figure who distributes stories of resistance and philosophical advice about undoing a corrupt system. His inspiration and unrequited love is Zadie Byrd Gray, a complicated figure full of passion and the spirit of revolution. As the country falls under martial law, and the borders with Canada close (a simple act that sets Rider’s Acadian family into full on revolt), Rider and Gray set off together across the United States connecting with other activists and sewing more seeds of the coming revolution.
Insurrection draws from the tactics of real world activism, and is heavily influenced by The Politics of Nonviolent Protest. Anyone who follows the student protests in Quebec and across Canada of recent years will be thrilled by Sun’s vision of a nationwide cacerolazo or casseroles, in which the entire country bangs its pots and pans against martial law:
On Friday night, the city shook. The suburbs shuddered. The rural regions roared. The racket connected cities to towns to countryside. Solidarity united the people. The sound grew monstrous and wild. It thrilled the soul with its thunderous cacophony. The people leaned ut their windows, stunned by the magnitude of the protest, awed by the volume of the masses.
On Saturday, the nation was ordered to desist. The response ricocheted back undeniably. There would be no quiet until martial law was ended! The Man From the North’s last article echoed in their ears: ‘bang to end curfews! Pound to halt pipelines! Strike to stop gas wells! Hammer to get soldiers off our streets! Whatever your reason, get out your pans. We will not live under the thumb of tyranny!
On Sunday, the drumming fell into the rhythm of prayer.
Of course, to really change things the Insurrection has to grow in the hearts of everyone, from munitions makers to police officers and soldiers, or at least enough of the populace that the tide can’t be turned back. Sun envisions a moment in which we all accept our responsibility as part of a system based on inequality and greed:
We, Charlie realized. It is always we who are ultimately culpable. He thought about the subtle shift that was occurring. Thousands of people had recognized their complicity in destruction, and were now taking a stand for life. Ah, Charlie thought, when we stop blaming Them and take responsibility for our actions … when we consciously withdraw our cooperation from injustice … that is when real change begins to occur. Not from the top, not from the bottom, but from all sides at once as every person wakes up and makes a conscious choice to preserve the goodness of life on this earth.
My few words here can’t do justice to what is a complex and moving look at a possible future for our country, one with nearly insurmountable challenges and yet also an almost unstoppable well of hope. I hope we can have an engaging discussion today on the possibilities and potentials of nonviolent resistance as well as the moving events of the book itself.
I’m excited to welcome Rivera Sun to the Book Salon to discuss The Dandelion Insurrection with all of you.
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]