Paul Loeb - SOUL OF A CITIZEN: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times
"I stayed up half the night reading Soul of a Citizen, finding it a beautiful and morally transcendent work that speaks in gentle words directly to the heart. The new edition is magnificent"
"A passionate but reasoned call for Americans to become involved in issues that matter."
-- Chicago Sun-Times
"Soul of a Citizen has inspired countless students, faculty, and other readers since its publication a decade ago. Amazing as that book was, this new version is even wiser, deeper, and more inspiring. Loeb has given even more soul to his wonderful work."
-—Thomas Ehrlich, former president Indiana University
SOUL OF A CITIZEN: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times
By Paul Rogat Loeb
Second Edition, St. Martin's Press, $16.99 ISBN 978-0-312-59537
With over 165,000 copies in print, Paul Loeb’s Soul of a Citizen has become a classic handbook for budding social activists, veteran organizers, and anyone who wants to make a difference—large or small—in these challenging times. An antidote to powerlessness, it has inspired thousands of citizens to make their voices heard and actions count—and then stay involved for the long haul. Assigned in hundreds of college classrooms, Soul has been particularly useful to get students involved in their communities
Soul helps new people get involved and encourages active citizens to keep on when their spirits are flagging, or when they feel disappointed with dashed hopes. Based on forty years of his activist experience and studying how people get engaged, Loeb describes how ordinary citizens can make their voices heard and their actions count in a time when they often feel neither matter. Soul 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 community involvement and citizen activism can give back a powerful sense of connection and purpose.
Writing in an engaging and evocative style, Loeb offers profound lessons for civc engagement
- 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 can't predict.
At the heart of Soul of a Citizen are profiles of a broad range of people who've learned these lessons. They include an inspiring mix of stories, including:
- How Virginia Tech student Angie De Soto began so apathetic she spent the night of her first presidential election playing a drinking game instead of voting. After becoming interested in global climate change, created a pioneering environmental sustainability plan for her once-apathetic campus.
- How a Maine housewife helped lead a path-breaking campaign finance reform initiative "so my kids won't grow up in a cynical world."
- How a prominent British climate scientist who is also a leading evangelical "converted"Rich Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, on global climate change. Cizik’s shift, he said, "shook my theology to its core,"and he went on to enlist other evangelical leaders, like Rick Warren.
- How a Seattle environmental activist celebrated her hundredth birthday, still passionately involved. "You do what you can," she said. "Then you do some more."
- How an African American man served seventeen years in the California prison system, then initiated a pioneering drug rehabilitation effort to give people "the support they need, in a language they can understand."
- How the founder of the leading liberal group MoveOn, Joan Blades, befriended Michelle Combs, communications director of the highly conservative Christian Coalition. How their friendship led to a joint campaign that saved the Internet as an open-access commons, instead of a medium to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
- How an eighth-grade dropout joins a community group in her San Antonio barrio, helped 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 also includes reflections on Paul’s personal journey, from challenging the Vietnam War as a young student activist to founding the national nonpartisan Campus Election Engagement Project. It explores political burnout, including how to deal with dashed electoral hopes. It examines "virtual activism"—and how our new technologies can either increase face-to-face engagement or become seductive traps to replace it. It
reminds us throughout of the power of human action. A classic of citizen engagement, Soul helps us meet the challenges and opportunities of our difficult time.
"Soul of a Citizen has inspired thousands of 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 people involved."
"Should be mandatory reading for anyone over the age of 12—especially every woman or man who has traded 'I give a damn' for 'I give up.'"
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