If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain
Not too long ago, I reviewed John Meachum’s book, The Soul of America. I noted that the spirit of which he speaks is a patchwork of all those who occupy America and as this is a messy concept to describe and make sense of. Our collective soul is a cloth woven from our individual souls. But what does this mean?
Each of us has a stake in the significance and makeup of our country. I would dare say the vast 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, very good health and the chance 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 where we can feel secure give us confidence that we are able to meet and set goals for our lives. They might have arrived as refugees from oppressive countries by the skin of their teeth. They might not understand or speak English. They may have valuable skills but not appropriate credentials by which their abilities can be recognized or recorded.
Some of us had a relatively peaceful upbringing and entered maturity 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 don’t all emerge from our childhood and adolescence with the same perspective on the world, our country or ourselves. All of the things I have said go into the makeup of our unique souls.
In my opinion, your soul contains one’s past experiences and how they’ve influenced your sense of who you are, your feeling of self-worth and outlook on the prospects for a fulfilling life. Besides ideas about yourself you also carry feelings which result from these experiences. You might emerge from your upbringing as happy, optimistic and self confident. With various experiences, you could emerge as unhappy, pessimistic and unsure of yourself.
The spirit 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 might 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 see yours.
• Take the time to understand what lies within your soul.
• What do you like about what you find and what would you change?
• When meeting strangers, try to understand what lies in their souls.
• Try to understand your differences.