Literary Analysis Essay on Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb

Published: 2021-07-12
833 words
4 pages
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Sewanee University of the South
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In the book titled Soul of a Citizen, Loeb (2010) asserts that public participation is the heart of a democratic society. He adds that while most Americans are willing to aid those in their communities, they are obligated morally to extend this gesture to the rest of the country and the world. Loeb admits that in a world whose matters, for example, severe worldwide poverty, are so big and complicated, we feel, as individuals, that we cannot make a real difference. Nevertheless, he avails a moving account of the change achieved by one man. According to Loeb (2010), people have learned, erroneously, that change happens immediately. However, he argues that the reality is that the change we hear and read about is the outcome of many peoples efforts over long periods. Therefore, if people gain patience, they will see the fruits of their labor ripen. Consequently, this paper seeks to explore the meaning and power of engaged citizenship by explaining three quotes from the book.

Change Happens Slowly

According to the book, Loeb (2010) relates this quote to the efforts made by a woman named Rosa Parks, who would not go to the back of the bus and give up her seat for a White. Her actions set in motion the yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery and earned her the title of mother of the civil rights movement (Loeb, 2010). Before this attempt, Parks had familiarity with previous challenges to segregation, such as another Montgomery bus boycott 50 years earlier and another just two years before her arrest. In short, Parks did not make an instant decision. Instead, she was part of a campaign for change at a time when success was unforeseen. Notably, this act reminds us that it may never have taken place without the simple, frustrating work preceding it. My attempt to end bullying in the institution is my engagement as a citizen of this school and country. Many people have tried before, and others will try later. However, in the end, our efforts will lead to an institution free from bullying.

Leaders are Born and Made Too

Loeb (2010) asserts that the ability to make a difference is inborn and immutable, as part of an individuals character. He argues that there are no natural leaders or followers. Additionally, he asserts that no people become activists by sole virtue of superior genetic characteristics. There are only people whose voices and visions through habit have been encouraged sufficiently. In particular, he argues that being able to stand up for ones beliefs is a learned behavior, not an inherited character. I choose this quote because it relates to my engagement to end bullying in the school. I do not hold any leadership position neither do I come from a family of leaders. Additionally, the former people who have attempted to end bullying in the institution were not leaders but individuals who had seen or experienced the effects of bullying. Therefore, this quote is telling me that I do not have to be a leader to engage successfully as a citizen. Instead, I can still serve in my little capacity to end this menace at the institution.

Experiments in Truth, Leave Room for Error

According to Loeb (2010), if participation in public life is a developmental process, then taking action is also an experiment in self-education. This quote is applicable in social activism such as fighting bullying in school. In particular, Loeb defines social activism as a matter of learning how to listen, mostly to those who disagree with our efforts, and learning how to voice our beliefs. For instance, my friends feel that bullying is a phase that new students have to go through. However, I disagree with this notion fully because while in the school, we are equal as students. Nevertheless, in the effort of encouraging bullied students to stand up to their bullies, often, the victims experience additional bullying, which affects them further. However, from this, I learn alternate ways the victims can use to evade their harassers. Just as Loeb writes, I agree that I am of imperfect knowledge in this activism, but learning as I can help me discover how much my actions matter.

To conclude, this book teaches that we live in a society and we have roles to play as engaged citizens to make the society better. All it takes is to believe that our efforts are worthwhile, and what we do in the public arena is not be in vain. Additionally, the change we are striving to make will happen slowly. In particular, my efforts of ending bullying in the school will bear fruits eventually. Moreover, people need to understand the vices in the society, such as bullying, and learn what it will take to health the community. Moreover, just as Loeb writes, one does not have to be a leader to bring change in the society. We can be engaged citizens in our small capacities.



Loeb, P. R. (2010). Soul of a citizen: Living with conviction in challenging times. St. Martin's Griffin.



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