Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Review: Soul of a Citizen

Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical TimeSoul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time 
by Paul Rogat Loeb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Soul of a Citizen is a must-read for every intelligent person on the planet. I found my copy in a charity book pile and picked it up because of the title. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It is more relevant and quotable today than it was when it was published in 1999. No kidding--you'll believe Loeb wrote this masterpiece just yesterday so prescient is his vision. It's that timely. Every home should have this book on their shelf for quick and easy reference.

Loeb inspires and motivates us to get off our backsides in Soul of a Citizen and get out into the world and fight for what we believe in. He deftly illustrates his points with examples of everyday people taking action who never believed they could do such a thing. These aren't "professional activists" or superheroes. These are folks who never thought they could make a difference in their community, their state, or the world at large, but who, nevertheless, found the courage to stand up and speak out for what they believed in and ended up making a difference for the better. Sure, times can be rough and not every effort will be met with immediate success, but when we sit back and do nothing we effectively kill off a piece of our soul Loeb warns. And the world is diminished that much more.

So, ignore the "insouciant smirks" or the "snark" (my term) that our society dishes out via the media whenever it tries to convince us that anything one person (or a group united for a good cause) attempts can't possibly make the world better. This snark, smirk or institutionalized cynicism has been perpetuated by the billionaires and millionaires for the past 40 years to keep us in our place. We all have been living under its soul-destroying cloud for so long that we've internalized it and come to believe its falsehoods. Worse yet, these oligarchs enjoy our "learned helplessness"--or should it be called "learned hopelessness"? The masses are lost in the consumer-driven culture and given up, filling their lives with empty bread (Starbucks?) and circuses (smartphones). Ordinary people discouraged and despairing won't take action to fight the wrongs made by greedy corporations and bought-and paid-for-politicians. No, we'll just sit and stare at our computing devices and throw in the towel and not fight back. The billionaires will just stuff more money in their offshore bank accounts as they send our jobs to China and accept their corporate welfare checks from the government...

Sound familiar? Want it to stop? Want to make the world a better place for all of God's creation and not just the 1%? Then get off your backside and find Soul of a Citizen in your local library, bookstore or online. Get it and read it. Today. Because tomorrow is the beginning of a whole new world that we can all be proud of because we worked together to make it happen.


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