Is It Well With Our Soul?

Leadership is the art of the possible. – Jon Meacham in The Soul of America

Everybody seems to be concerned about The Soul of the United States. Real Question for international readers: Do people who live outside the United States discuss their country’s soul?  What is Ghana’s soul?  What is the soul of the Philippines?

Episcopalian Jon Meacham wrote The Soul of America – The Battle for Our Better Angels two years ago, and  in 2020 people are still pondering what this means:

  • Joe Biden – “This campaign isn’t just about winning votes. It’s about winning the heart and, yes, the soul of America.”
  • The Trump Campaign – ‘A recent Trump campaign ad with the words “Save America’s Soul” challenged the Democrats’ desire “to reclaim the soul of America.”
  • Joy Harjo, the current U.S. poet laureate and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation: “It is like everything is broken at once. We are at a point of great wounding, where everyone is standing and looking within themselves and each other.”
  • Marlo Tucker, California Director of Concerned Women for America: “It really comes down to what do you stand for, and what do you not stand for.”
  • Frederick Douglass (in 1844) “The real and only-to-be-relied-on movement for the abolition of slavery … is a great moral and religious movement.  The work of which is ,,, the fixing in the soul of the nation …

(Source for these quotes here and here.)

People of the United States: what exactly is the soul of our nation?

Throughout Election Year 2020 I’ve heard that we are both the greatest nation ever and also a country that’s lost it’s way.  We are a nation that has – historically – not loved its native peoples, its new immigrants, and those who arrived on slave ships as much as we’ve loved wealth and power.  

What kind of soul do we have?  And what kind of soul do we want?  

Elections tend to peg people as if we are purely “for” or “against” things.  Most of us fail to do our research and we equate real journalism with tabloid journalism or we real misleading headlines while passing over the stories.  It’s easy to be an irresponsible citizen.

I will admit that I have personally learned more from observing poor leadership than observing stellar leadership, but that doesn’t mean that we should keep poor leaders around.  If you haven’t voted already, please consider voting for the best leaders.

For some, strong leaders are humble, self-sacrificing, and empathetic.  For others, strong leaders are hard-nosed and uncompromising.  The truth is that sometimes we need leaders who will cry with us and sometimes we need leaders who will not back down in the face of injustice.

Even throughout my recovery, people tried to contact me for reference checks for pastors.  It’s hard to offer a clear-headed assessment of a leader while on meds, but it’s even harder to offer a sound assessment when I don’t know the congregation and what kind of leader they need.  What’s the soul of your congregation?  It’s not an easy question to ask – even in the Church.

If I may be so bold, I’d like to repeat what one of my colleagues said several months ago regarding the soul of our nation and what we need in a leader:

After a particularly tumultuous time in a congregation because the previous pastor was – let’s say – guilty of misconduct or bullying or disruptive personal issues, it’s always best to choose a transitional leader who will be steady and calm.  (Thank you RM.)

We, the people need to recover and reclaim our “why?”  Why do we exist?  Do we exist for ourselves?  For each other?  For those in need?

For this reason, I am praying that we will elect leaders who are steady and calm and who will help us reclaim our “why?”  Why are we – the United States – a country concerned about our soul in the first place?

(The fact that we are concerned makes me love my country even more.)  Please vote.

One response to “Is It Well With Our Soul?

  1. Historian Jon Meacham has been an author from whom I have found solace, been challenged, and been inspired. He has made the past four years endurable with the reminder of “better angels.”


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