I recently wrote a book I am calling "Soul Growing." It is a reflection on spiritual exercise for the postmodern world or what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "the world come of age." In it I describe a man without a soul. One of my observations is that ego is in inverse relationship to soul. So I began describing what a person that had extremely high ego (which BTW is usually a product of insecurity) would be like.
As I was writing, I read the interview with Donald Trump's ghostwriter and realized that I had a real live example of a man without a soul. But now, against all odds that I would have given, he is president-elect. The Leader. The Decidifier. So I ask myself what is a person who wants to grow her soul to think, to feel, to do now?
I think of Bonhoeffer's words: "If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver." And "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
Those of us who aspire to be great souled must remind ourselves that:
- Any event, even the most adverse event, can be an occasion for growing the soul. Setbacks are for learning. Suffering is the stuff of solidarity.
- The universe continually presents the possibility of disaster, including death and destruction. To be open to life and existence itself means to accept this possibility. And this is the most important of spiritual exercises for soul growing.
And so what to do:
I intend to keep my faith in humanity, over any belief or ideology, and my hope in the possibility of transcendence even in those who follow a man with no soul.
I intend to maintain my own inner peace and to connect with other souls who will resist the negativity of violence even if that means accepting violence on myself.
I intend to help build pockets of resistance against the building of walls, forced deportations, racial profiling, and registering persons by religion.
Our life is very short. We use the little time, space, and connections we have to advance the human spirit and remove the obstacles to progress.
You can tell I have once again taken up Bonhoeffer and especially his Letters from Prison. He returned to Germany from the safety of teaching in New York to accompany his fellow citizens and resisters in their suffering. He preached against and resisted Nazism, was arrested and sent to prison for being connected to the officers' group that tried to kill Hitler. Just a few weeks before the Allies took Berlin, Bonhoeffer was marched out naked to the courtyard of the concentration camp and hanged. So reminding us of another martyr who resisted empire 2000 years before.
He is the model for us of the great souled leader confronting the man without a soul.