I don’t know about you, but I am fried. These last two years proved personally & professionally exhausting. And yet, another year looms ahead unavoidably — another incredibly demanding year which will require more than I can fathom I actually have to give at this moment. So, during these strange, liminal, hazy, waning days between my culture’s frenetic celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I decided I could not digest one more morsel of non-fiction. Not one more triple vetted, actually fact-checked, or at least mostly properly journalistic news article. Not one more diligently researched treatise on the world’s sorry state of affairs. Not one more book-length analysis of humanity’s determined spiral into self-destruction.
Instead, I set out a stack of backlogged novels I’d told myself I’d get around to later when things calmed down and decided that even if things were far from calm, humanity’s creativity was what I desperately needed a large dose of this week. I boiled the kettle, brewed a strong cup of tea, and in working my way through that stack of novels, I found and joined The Dandelion Insurrection.
Published three years ago, The Dandelion Insurrection: love and revolution is a work of fiction exploring the country we are swiftly becoming in the wake of a compromised election, a meteoric rise in homegrown fascism, and the relentless destruction of corporate hegemony. As author, Rivera Sun, writes in her epilogue:
The Dandelion Insurrection is a prophetic mirror, both foretelling and reflecting the story of our times. Between the first pencil-scratched draft and the publishing of this edition, many details of the novel have shifted from this author’s wild imagining into a stark and sobering reality. As a result, the story resides in a foggy realm between fact and fiction.
Reading the first few chapters was disconcerting, as I could see now how very, very, very close we are to the world in which this story takes place. But as I kept reading, I got to know a cast of wonderful characters like Charlie Rider, the young writer with a passionate voice for nonviolent action, and Zadie Byrd Gray, the spirit of the Dandelion Insurrection and the dedicated midwife to love & revolution. They, along with their friends, family, & communities commit themselves to the rebirth of a nation — one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It is an enormous task. Almost an impossible one.
But Charlie, Zadie, and the Dandelion Insurrection don’t ask us or their families or friends or communities to do it at one fell swoop. Nor do they ask us to do more than what we can in this moment, right now. Throughout their adventures, their striving, they continually remind us that the Dandelion Insurrection is “as small as baking bread in the oven and as large as bringing down dictators.” They encourage us to join them in a movement that is “as big as restoring democracy and as small as saying hello to your neighbors,” that is “as vast as the planet and as microscopic as infectious disease.” In a particularly powerful moment, Zadie reminds us all that the nonviolent revolution that is the Dandelion Insurrection isn’t simply “a handful of radicals. It’s all of Life itself!” — life that self-organizes within the framework of creation and persists in the face of countless attempts to destroy it.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were written into our founding as a nation. While life and liberty always ring true to me, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with that last bit. The pursuit of happiness. Not happiness, itself. Not joy. Not peace. Not love. The pursuit. It is this unceasing obsession with the pursuit that allows us to accept abuse and oppression within our culture. We’re entitled to this pursuit, our Declaration of Independence promises it to us. Therefore, whatever obstacles we face, whoever appears to prevent our pursuit of this elusive notion of American happiness (read: turning a profit) must be pushed out of the way, must be stepped on, must be beaten. And above all must not be allowed to get their hands on our happiness. The pursuit of happiness is the scarcity mentality and all the social injustice that comes with it woven into the very fabric of our nation’s being.
The Dandelion Insurrection challenges this paradigm and offers a potential revisioning of the American Dream. What if we replace the unceasingly merciless grind of the pursuit of happiness with love? What if our unalienable rights were to life, liberty, & love?
The Dandelion Insurrection is a novel about two young people in love in turbulent times, but it is also the story of a nation learning to love again. To love their neighbor as themselves. To love the divine creation that is the earth we inhabit. To love the vision of a truly just and egalitarian nation into being.
If you are fried, beat down & exhausted, if you are watching your hope slip away, then give yourself the gift of a few days curled up with a hot cup of tea and The Dandelion Insurrection. Your heart will thank you for it.
And if you’re the organizing type, I also highly recommend you snag a copy of The Dandelion Insurrection Study Guide: making change through nonviolent action! for when you start your own Dandelion Book Club and begin to seed the Insurrection in the hearts of your own community. 2017, here we come!
The past two years revealed to us the truth of who we are in this moment — a truth many of us were unprepared to see in such a raw manner. What will come of this truth in the years to come, I do not pretend to know. But for now, in light of a waxing moon and a dying year, there are at least three things we can all do — three things Rivera, Zadie, & Charlie and the whole of The Dandelion Insurrection assure us we are all capable of doing. Right here. Right now.
Kate M. Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon. She is also a current resident of Heartwood Cohousing in Colorado & a homeschooling mother of three. Kate hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, priestesses labyrinth rituals, and facilitates workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. During 2017, she will present at the SOA’s annual online conference, AvaCon, & at the second annual Ninefold Festival next autumn. Kate is a contributing writer at One World Herbal Community and is also published in Flower Face: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Blodeuwedd and The Goddess in America: The Divine Feminine in Cultural Context.