The Roots of Resistance
In 2012, I began to write about a "time that looms around the corner of today" and a "place on the edge of our nation". Since then, we have seen the rise of greater levels of greed, bigotry, climate denialism . . . and also the eruptions of widespread resistance. The fate of humanity appears tied to the winging pendulum of each moment - one minute brings hope, the next heralds disaster. The closing chapter of each day leaves us suspended in the breathless uncertainty of an eternal cliffhanger.
These are times for courage, and times for love. The trapping of normalcy have no business in our current world - indeed, they are often the causes of the very dangers we seek to avert. The Dandelion Insurrection and The Roots of Resistance were born from and in these times as stories to inspire and instruct. The world of Charlie and Zadie, Inez and Tansy, is not exactly ours. It lives one step outside our reality, just far enough for fresh possibilities to emerge, yet close enough for us to glean ideas and inspiration.
If the characters loom both larger than life and intimately familiar, it is because I have encountered real people like Tucker, Alex, Kinap, and Will, all across this country. I have also seen Friend, Devanne, and the Butcher. Ultimately, I think each of us is a Frank Novaro, poised at a moment of truth, ready for the hard shell of our hearts to crack open, about to throw the weight of our love in the struggle for justice. We are also Will Sharp, conflicted, soul-searching, and growing. His struggle over tactics and loyalties stirs up the same questions we are facing in our movements today. There are few easy answers.
The Roots of Resistance portrays the dynamics of different methods of struggle. As much as possible, I have tried to follow the identified patterns noted by researches who are looking at hundreds of conflicts. If you are curious, you can find more information here: (link).
The Roots of Resistance draws inspiration from many real life examples of nonviolent struggle, including the theories of civilian based defense, Denmark's resistance to Nazi occupation, Sherri Mitchell - Wena'gamu'gwasit's teachings on kinap and conquest ideology, the nation's first nonviolent public elementary school in Rhode Island, Standing Rock and many other fossil fuel and water extraction resistance campaigns, and much more.
The novel also highlights another important trend: our opposition is studying the ropes of nonviolent struggle - not to use it, but to stop us - and they are often learning faster than we are. If we wish to see our efforts succeed, we need to prioritize widespread education about the strategy and dynamics of nonviolent struggle. The John C. Friends of the world are becoming more and more skillful at infiltrating, disrupting, and dividing movements. They intentionally provoke activists to violence and sabotage, knowing exactly how to defeat such tactics and use them to discredit movements.
The discussion of violence vs. nonviolence needs to grow beyond the current argument around the moral right to self-defense into an informed analysis of the dynamics of collective struggle and organized resistance. The statistics that Idah Robbins quotes are real: nonviolent action is twice as effective as violent means, in a third of the amount of time, with a fraction of the casualties. Violent flanks have no demonstrated effect on the success of nonviolent movements, which are succeeding in spite of (not because of) the presence of violent flanks.
The knowledge and study of nonviolent struggle has advanced far enough that advocates of the method need not be naive idealists. In fact, they shouldn't be! Over thousands of years, especially in the last two centuries, hundreds of millions of your fellow human beings have picked up the tools of nonviolent action to dismantle oppressive structures and build a new world of respect and justice. All of us who yearn for change should honor the their sacrifices and courage by studying the stories of this remarkable lineage and applying the hard won lessons.
This knowledge, which is woven into the pages of this novel, determines more than the plot twists of the Dandelion Insurrection books. It contains the hope of humanity as we wage struggle for survival. If we choose to learn from our past, we have the chance to alter the swing of the world's uncertain pendulums. The knowledge of nonviolent struggle can change the landscape of our lives, especially on the coming day when the "time that looms around the corner of today" arrives in the heartbeat of the present.