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Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Timesby Paul Rogat Loeb
Synopses & Reviews
How do we challenge our culture's pervasive cynicism? Paul Loeb presents an alternative vision of hope and courage in Soul of a Citizen. Based on thirty years of studying the psychology of social involvement, Loeb describes how ordinary citizens can make their voices heard and their actions count in a time when we're often told neither matter.
Soul of a Citizen explores what leads some people to get involved in larger community issues while others feel overwhelmed or uncertain; what it takes to maintain commitment for the long haul; and how involvement can give back a sense of connection and purpose rare in purely personal life. Writing in an engaging and evocative style, Loeb offers profound lessons: Our efforts can do more--for ourselves and for the world--than we may ever imagine. We don't have to become saints--or wait for the perfect situation--to take action. Change happens little by little, step by step. We can savor the journey of engagement, even though our ultimate destination is unclear. The impact of our efforts will often ripple outward in ways we cannot predict.
At the heart of Soul of a Citizen are profiles of a broad range of people who have learned these lessons. They include:
A Maine housewife helps lead a path-breaking campaign finance reform initiative so my kids won't grow up in a cynical world.
A Seattle environmental activist celebrates her hundredth birthday, still passionately involved. You do what you can, she says. Then you do some more.
A fisherman forges new links between environmentalists, fishermen and Native American tribes to restore Pacific salmon habitat. It's draining to convince yourself you're powerless and swallow whatever's handed to you, he says. You get a lot back when you work with a good group of people to take a stand.
An African American man serves seventeen years in the California prison system, then initiates a pioneering drug rehabilitation effort to give people the support they need, in a language they can understand.
An eighth-grade dropout joins a community group in her San Antonio barrio, helps design an innovative job program and eventually testifies before the U.S. Senate. The group found some spark in me, she recalls. I never knew I had it.
Soul of a Citizen is a highly personable story of integrity and commitment, a testament to our often-unrealized ability to lead lives worthy of our convictions.
"Soul has been a powerful inspiration to citizens acting for environmental sanity, showing how they can take committed stands, even if they don't know every last answer. The new edition is even more inspirational." Bill McKibben
"I stayed up half the night reading Soul of a Citizen, finding it a beautiful and morally transcendent work. Paul Loeb is a personal hero of mine who gives decency and generosity a political character, in the humblest of ways. The new edition is magnificent." Jonathan Kozol
"When my daughter asked from college how to be an effective grassroots citizen, I gave her Paul's book. The new edition is even more powerful." Josette Sheeran, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Program
"Soul has inspired thousands of young people, of widely differing perspectives, to take a stand. It teaches them how to get past the barriers to act, and why their actions matter. The new edition is a powerful personal guide to get involved." Hans Riemer, Youth Vote Director, Barack Obama campaign, former political director, Rock the Vote
Soul of a Citizen has become a classic handbook for budding social activists, veteran organizers, and anybody who wants to make a change. America's new president has asked citizens to get involved in their communities, and this book shows how to get started.
Soul of a Citizen has become the handbook for budding social activists, veteran organizers, and anybody who wants to make a change — big or small — in the world around them. At this critical historical time, Paul Loeb's completely revised edition — and inspiring message — is more urgently important than ever.
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 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.
Soul of a Citizen has become the handbook for budding social activists, veteran organizers, and anybody who wants to make a change—big or small—in the world around them. At this critical historical time , Paul Loeb's completely revised edition—and inspiring message—is more urgently important than ever.
About the Author
Paul Rogat Loeb, an associated scholar at Seattle's Center for Ethical Leadership, has written on social involvement for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Psychology Today, Utne Reader, Redbook, Parents, the Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Salon.com, the Village Voice, National Catholic Reporter, and the International Herald Tribune. Loeb is also the author of Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus, Nuclear Culture, and Hope in Hard Times.
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