Monday, August 7, 2023

#219 / Soul Of A Citizen


I keep having rather good luck with the Little Free Libraries around town, and I give, too, as well as take, which is the way it's supposed to work. 
This past June, I picked up a book by Paul Rogat Loeb, who turns out to be quite an accomplished person. Click the link to his name for an introduction. 
Loeb's book, Soul of a Citizen, is subtitled, "Living With Conviction In A Cynical Time." Loeb's book was published in 1999. The cover of book that I now possess is pictured at the bottom of this blog posting.
As of 2010, Loeb has updated his text, and he has updated his title, as well. Loeb's book is now titled: Soul Of A Citizen: Living With Conviction In Challenging Times
I haven't run out to buy the latest edition, figuring that the one I got for free is probably going to meet my needs just fine. Furthermore, cynicism about the state of the world, and about our ability to do anything to change it, is certainly one of our biggest challenges. To the extent that Loeb's book can help me deal with that kind of cynicism, I'm satisfied.
Loeb's book does help us deal with the kind of cynicism that immobilizes us, and that makes us lose hope. Here are just a few of the testimonies that you can find on the back cover, and in the initial pages of the book: 

"Soul of a Citizen helps teach us what to do."

"I regard Loeb as something of a national treasure."
"A transformative book of courage and authenticity."

"Absolutely splendid."
So, what does Soul Of A Citizen have to tell us?
Basically, as you can see from the quotation from his book, below, Loeb pretty much tells his readers the same thing that I have been saying in my blog postings, which I have been publishing, right here, each day for the last thirteen years. Our escape from cynicism, and from its accompanying feelings of hopelessness, can be achieved by our participation in the work of democratic self-government: 

In the personal realm, most Americans are thoughtful, caring, generous. We try to do our best by family and friends... But increasingly, a wall now separates each of us from the world outside, and from others who've likewise taken refuge in their own private sanctuaries. We've all but forgotten that public participation is the very soul of democratic citizenship, and how much it can enrich our lives (emphasis added).
Loeb structures his book as a series of stories, telling readers what real people have done, in real life, to engage in the kind of public participation he mentions right at the outset. I'll join those other, famous people quoted above, in recommending the book to you.

If I can be truthful, I think the reason that I picked up Loeb's book from the Little Free Library was his use of the word "soul" in the title - and specifically because he conjoined the word "soul" with the word "citizen." As I have thought about "politics" over the time I have been writing these daily postings, adding to a website I have titled, "We Live In A Political World," I have come to believe that our "politics," and thus the world in which we live, will be redeemed - will be "saved" - only if our citizenship is transformed by what amounts to a spiritual rebirth. 

I have personally lived long enough to have witnessed that kind of spiritual transformation, in the realm of our "citizenship," in the redemption of our politics by the Civil Rights Movement, accompanied by the elevating, clarifying words of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Image Credits:
(1) - Personal Photo - Gary A. Patton
(2) -

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