‘It Is the Soul That Must Be Preserved’

To be real honest with you, there have been times over the last three years when spending the better part of five days a week immersed in our current political culture has been exhausting. Trying to capture my reaction to the latest outrage from the narcissist-in-chief has often left me speechless. But perhaps the heaviest burden has been to watch so many people in this country (some of whom I count as friends and family) remain loyal to a president who is anathema to what I value as both a human being and an American.

During the darkest moments, I’ve found that it helps to reflect on something Alice Walker wrote to Barack Obama shortly after he was elected in 2008. I think it applies to all of us now (emphasis mine).

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life…

Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

The one thing that would be fatal for liberals would be to allow our souls to die because, as Walker suggests, that would sever the connection to everything we care about and fight for. Interestingly enough, that also works in the reverse. When we feed our connection to the people and things we care about, our soul is preserved.

I have to admit that, on days when the current political environment brings me down the most, it is often because I’ve become too focused on what we’re fighting against and have lost sight of what we’re fighting for. That is precisely how our souls die.

To the extent that we nurture our connections and keep our souls alive, we are able to lighten the way and brighten the world with the truth. That’s why, no matter what happens, I promise to always engage in courageous truth-telling and let my little light shine. If you promise to do the same, I invite you to join me in a celebration with The Boss.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.