Lately, in all the amazing free time I have, I have begun rereading a book that first entered my hands as a freshman in college: Paul Rogat Loeb’s Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. When I read it those years ago, it was inspiring, but in an, “Oh, that makes sense,” or “That’s pretty nifty” kind of way.
This time, my lens and my perspective are incredibly different. I have barely made any headway into the book and already I am realizing just how important these ideas are. My circumstances are different than the stories in the book, but the sentiment is the same. How do you stand up? How do you make your voice and your actions count?
It’s a powerful book that really helps you understand how to stand up for what you believe in and how to make a difference in the world. (I also appreciate that Loeb is sensitive to saying “God, if you believe in God.”) I thought I would share two quotes that Loeb includes in his introduction. These two quotes really represent the complexity of what I stand for in very simple ways. They inspire me, and I document them here in this blog as Loeb did in his book in hopes they are helpful to others as well.
In regard to cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some are guilty, while all are responsible.
–Rabbi Abraham Heschel
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?