Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time

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9780312204358: Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time

Soul of a Citizen awakens within us the desire and the ability to make our voices heard and our actions count. We can lead lives worthy of our convictions.

A book of inspiration and integrity, Soul of a Citizen is an antidote to the twin scourges of modern life-powerlessness and cynicism. In his evocative style. Paul Loeb tells moving tells moving stories of ordinary Americans who have found unexpected fulfillment in social involvement. Through their example and Loeb's own wise and powerful lessons, we are compelled to move from passivity to participation. The reward of our action, we learn, is nothing less than a sense of connection and purpose not found in a purely personal life.

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Review:

These are indeed cynical times. But to hide behind the smugness of cynicism is a kind of self-imposed death sentence, explains writer and social commentator Paul Loeb. In fact, now is the ideal time for gathering all our strengths and wisdom as spiritual beings and applying ourselves to shaping a better world, he claims.

Are we talking social activism here? Well, yes. But before you cringe from images of shrill, humorless, burned out activists, keep in mind that Loeb is talking about a new kind of activism--an exciting, spiritual model for creating social change. We don't have to be pious or martyred saints (as he explains throughout one chapter), starving ourselves in the name of a cause or staging protests in freezing rain. We can be "good enough" activists, assuming the task of helping 10 people in need rather than taking on the globe. We can remember the power of storytelling when convincing an audience, rather than angrily spewing scary facts. We can replenish ourselves so that we do not burn out. We can emphasize themes such as community and forgiveness rather than separatism and blame.

This is a deeply spiritual book, but make no mistake: Loeb's writing, research, and integrity are as solid as they come. Soul of a Citizen may well become The Handbook for activism at the turn of the century. --Gail Hudson

From the Publisher:

Informed by his lifelong participation in peace, justice, and environmental causes, Loeb offers Americans a new vision for personal engagement with societal issues. A Seattle-based scholar, he eloquently argues for a return to community involvement and social activism which, he says, have declined since the 1960s and 1970s. He gently chides former activists lost to private pursuits, fatigue and cynicism, and warns of increasing social isolation and the widening opportunity gap between rich and poor, despite our robust economy. Throughout, Loeb emphasizes the psychological and spiritual importance of the human connection. Believing that personal stories, not politics, capture people's attention, he seamlessly weaves in inspiring examples of "unexpected heroism in ordinary people" and successful activism. One such example is 100-year-old Hazel Wolf, "the grandmother of the environmental movement," who championed neighborhood, daycare, economic inequity, and pollution issues. Loeb challenges all citizens to take action on their concerns and suggests an activist model for our times, stressing a zen-like satisfaction in the journey. Even readers who disagree with his liberal politics will find compassion, intelligence, and thought-provoking wisdom here. --Publishers Weekly

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