radical is the new sensible . . .

The Stories We Tell: Rivera Sun On Hit Movies, Feminist Classics, and New Novels

“The Universe is made of stories, not atoms,” said Muriel Rukeyser in The Speed of Darkness.
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What Do Hit Movies, Feminist Classics, & Rivera Sun’s Newest Novel Have In Common?
They all weave the story of the world, for better or for worse.

Confession: I watch movies. I check out amazing social justice films like Pride or Made in Dagenham. I also watch not-as-inspiring Hollywood tributes to the culture of violence like the new Star Wars film or the Chris Pine Star Trek movies. Why does a nonviolence fan like me watch these flicks? (And yes, I ask myself that question through the whole movie.) Namely, because I’m curious about the stories we’re telling ourselves as a culture.

Might makes right. The good guy’s violence is okay. Just Wars justify extreme acts of brutality. These are the messages we’re pumping out to millions of viewers on the silver screen. But, if we’re ever going to have a culture of peace and active nonviolence, we’re going to need to change these stories. Our heroes and sheroes are going to have to look a lot more like  Gandhi, King, the women of Dagenham, Liberia’s Mass Action for Peace, the Chipko Movement and so many more.

That’s where my writing comes in. It’s almost time for a new Rivera Sun novel. The sequel to The Way Between is coming. It’s a magical story about a fiesty redheaded shero using nonviolent action instead of swords to wage peace instead of war. In the new book, Ari Ara turns Mariana Capital on its snobby head as she stands up for the rights of two downtrodden populaces, helping them shift from fighting each other to fighting their common problem. More on that in next week’s email (including the title of the book).

This newsletter is about the importance of changing the story of the world. As you might imagine, my reading  list is as eclectic as my movie list, ranging fromAkata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (think Harry Potter meets the African diaspora) to Charles Eisenstein’s Climate: A New Story to The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler. The last book is a feminist classic, though Riane’s point is that the epic struggle humanity has faced over the last six millennium hasn’t been patriarchy vs. matriarchy, but rather dominator structures vs. partnership structures. The massive challenges we face today still revolve around these ancient themes. And if there’s anything to be learned from history, it’s that violence begets violence begets hierarchy begets domination. If we want to end oppression, our ends and means need to be rooted in systems of respect, mutuality, horizonality, equality, equity, real democracy, peace, and nonviolence.

Six thousand years ago, the story of the world experienced a terrifying shift to war, violence, domination, and in most cases, patriarchy. The last hundred and fifty years of human history have shown incredible heroic struggles to flip this script, to challenge those stories, and to re-establish the equality of the (many) genders, races, sexualities, abilities, and creeds. My mission as a writer is to transform the field of literature and to move our literary myths into reflecting the epic story of our times: the story of courageous nonviolent struggle for justice. This is a story that’s robust and inspiring, but all too often overlooked by our mass media (the vehicle of contemporary myth making). All of my novels lift up the new mythic sheroes and heroes. Ari Ara is a classic example.

In my next newsletter, I’ll be sharing more about the plot of the new novel, the themes explored, and the upcoming Community Publishing Campaign (you know ’em, you love ’em). Thanks for being part of the growing movement to change the story of our times. You are my real-life hero or shero. Keep it up.
Rivera

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