The Soul of America and the Souls of Its Residents

 

BWWD30SFX0

If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

 ~Abraham Lincoln~

Not too long ago, I reviewed John Meachum’s book, The Soul of America. I noted that the soul of which he speaks is a patchwork of all of those who inhabit America and as such is a messy concept to describe and make sense of. Our collective soul is a fabric woven from our individual souls. But what does this mean?

Each of us has a stake in the meaning and makeup of our country. We do have some things in common. I would dare say the majority of us agree that we would like to have the basics to build a satisfying life for ourselves. We would also like to have adequate housing, enough food to eat, good health and the opportunity for our children to make their own way in the world.

Some of us are born with a head start. Support from our parents and relatives, family financial resources and a neighborhood in which we can feel safe give us confidence that we can set and meet goals for our lives. Others in this country barely have a toehold. They may have arrived as refugees from oppressive countries by the skin of their teeth. They may not understand or speak English. They may have valuable skills but not appropriate credentials by which their skills can be recognized or documented.

Some of us had a relatively peaceful upbringing and entered adulthood confident of our ability to make our own way in the world. Others of us have been marginalized and made to feel inferior in comparison with our fellow citizens. We do not all emerge from our childhood and adolescence with the same perspective on the world, our country or ourselves. All of the things I have mentioned go into the makeup of our individual souls.

In my opinion, your soul consists of one’s past experiences and how they have affected your sense of who you are, your feeling of self-worth and outlook on the prospects for a fulfilling life. In addition to thoughts about yourself you also carry feelings which result from these experiences. You might emerge from your upbringing as happy, optimistic and self confident. With different experiences, you might emerge as unhappy, pessimistic and unsure of yourself.

The soul of America is a mixture of all of our individual souls. With our different backgrounds and experiences, it can be very difficult for us to understand and support each other. That is the challenge we face. It may be difficult but that does not make it impossible. Just try to remember that not everyone has had the same experiences you have and may view their life very differently from how you view yours.

Action Steps

  • Take time to understand what lies in your soul.
  • What do you like about what you find and what could you change?
  • When meeting strangers, try to understand what lies in their souls.
  • Think what it would be like to have their history.
  • Try to understand your differences.

America: Corporation or Society

Integrity is essential and irreplaceable. It is the most valuable asset
for a person, a company, or a society seeking to build and progress.

~Rex Tillerson~

another brick

For several centuries America has worked to become a society in the sense of being a community with common laws and customs. We have made progress toward this ideal over the years although we have always had more to do to “form a more perfect union.” This was our goal stated in the preamble to our constitution. Our country has always had more to offer to people of wealth and power than to those less fortunate. We have had times of progress toward meeting the needs of all or citizens and times when the needs and wishes of the few outweighed the needs of the many.

We find ourselves in a time when many of the safeguards to our well­being are being dismantled piece by piece on a daily basis. Those in power act in the interest of themselves and of their powerful allies. Protection of the environment, providing for our health, provision of the basic necessities including clean air and water are now being undermined or discarded outright. Years of work to develop positive relationships with other nations is being undermined or simply cast aside. The idea of cooperation with other countries is being discarded in the interest of America first. Efforts are underway to cleanse America from immigrants whose presence and contributions made us so successful in the first place.

The Corporation Project of the Frank Bold law firm describes the purpose of a corporation first stated in the 1970’s as being to maximize shareholder value. All other goals were seen as secondary to the extent that they were considered at all. I don’t mean to suggest that all corporations are so callous. There are quite a few which have served to enrich society as well as their financial holdings. Yet the corporate culture has focused largely on short term gains with all other considerations becoming secondary at best.

In my opinion, those leading our country at present show a clear corporate mentality about our country in the sense of putting money first. The welfare of our country, our planet, our environment and our global community have all been relegated to secondary consideration with financial gain as the chief focus. In the process, wealth, resources and power become concentrated in fewer hands as the process of corporatizing America continues.

History has shown repeatedly that a course of events such as the one we find propelling us now eventually leads to revolution and overthrow of the few left at the top. Those who are there now are betting that their course will be sustainable in the near future which is their chief frame of reference rather than the greater good of all the world’s citizens which requires a much broader outlook.

Those in power will be happy to continue on their merry way as long as they are allowed to do so. We are currently seeing rumblings of a groundswell of dissent questioning the status quo which I see as unsustainable. The options are evolution of thought and mutual cooperation toward a national and global society or revolution when dissent reaches the tipping point. The choice is ours. What do you choose?