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.
Three R’s They Don’t Teach In School
Resistance, rabble-rousing, rebellion: a maturing empire such as ours has no room for these. Unquestioning obedience is required. Every standardized test, multiple choice question, regimented schedule, gold star, or failing grade trains us to obey authority. The curriculum that is laid out in yearly tests leaves no time for free thought, only a frantic rush to memorize and regurgitate the correct answer.
It is boot camp for our brains.
From our leaders’ viewpoint, American society no longer requires pioneers, artists, and innovators. The wealthy elite births just enough entrepreneurs to generate fresh, controllable income. Inventors are cheaper in China, where such questioning minds pose problems to other corrupt governments, not ours. Puppet artists who uphold the entrenched snobbery of the classical arts can be imported along with fine furniture and fancy electronics.
Our nation requires soldiers and servants – though impoverished citizens enslaved by debt will suffice if the correct attitudes of patriotism and servility cannot be inspired. It is best, however, if obedience can be drilled into the children from an early age. A questioning mind is a dangerous weapon. A dissenter could cause massive societal destruction. A dreamer who paints the world outside the corporate box is an undeniable enemy of the State.
The surly child slouching in the back row, drumming impatiently on his desk should be hauled up to the front of the class. Mock him! Shame him into line. Slap him with a ruler if you must! His rebellious soul should be imprisoned immediately.
That child must never be left to wander the library. He should never lay his hands on the stories of rebel-souls like Gandhi or Dr. King. He’ll get dangerous ideas. He’ll think that his disobedience has deep and noble roots. He should never hear the truth about the upstarts that ignited the American Revolution. Let him imagine that patriotism for America inspired those early radicals. Train him to love his country, to fight for it, to die for it! Hide the truth from that child. Don’t point out that the yearning for freedom and independence from oppressive control preceded loyalty to one’s country. Patriotism for America was the first whiplash of control that cracked across our forefathers’ backs. Don’t tell that rule-breaking child about that.
The American Empire fears this child; he contains the seed of the Dandelion Insurrection. His soul knows the meaning of tyranny. His eyes recognize the signs of oppression. His mind fights the constraints of society. His heart is not afraid to risk everything to champion the rights of all. They will try to crush him, smash the seed of rebellion inside him, and bury the threat of his unruliness under the concrete of their control. They will teach the other children to hate and scorn him.
But adversity is the fertilizer of a true rebel and the seed inside that child will thrive against all odds.
I was that child, my friends, and if I could speak with him now, I would give him courage for his arduous years. I would light the flame of hope inside him. I would assure him that the seed he carried in his soul would never die. He would see it, one day, lying dormant in all the other children. He would find it germinating in every man. He would see it curling in the women’s hearts. And, one great morning, he will look at his country – as I do now – and see the seeds of the Dandelion Insurrection blossoming.
Rivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to her most recent novel, Billionaire Buddha, 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.