In this book, Loeb has basically created a guide for aspiring community activists, organizers, and anybody willing to make a change. In the book, he has made an outline of what it takes to be an activist and how to remain one. Since Loeb himself is a political activist, through the book, he is trying to inspire and motivate the public to air their voices and to take action against the negative government policies. To achieve this, he has emphasized on the influence which the people are capable of. Through out the book, there seems to be five main points that keep cropping up every time. The first point is that; people have such a huge potential to enforce their wishes if they wanted to.
This potential is usually unknown to the public and has the capabilities of not only making their lives better, but also everyone’s. Secondly, he has reminded the people that they are not perfect and they will never be. This means that they should never undermine themselves and think that they are not good enough to do anything. Also, others usually wait for the best time to act and the truth of the matter is; there will never be a perfect time. Therefore, the best time to act is now. Thirdly, he urges the people not to despair if their actions do not yield results immediately.
Loeb says that change happens slowly, and people have to learn to be patient and not loose hope. The fourth point is that; people should take pleasure in their quest for justice and equality. Loeb has reminded the citizens that, even though their specific goals might be unclear, they should relish every part of the ‘journey’. Finally, he has motivated the citizens by telling them that their efforts are bound to go a long way more than they can ever imagine. Every move they make never goes unnoticed.
In the end, in one way or the other, their efforts will be rewarded and everybody will benefit. To attain closure, Loeb has narrated stories of various ordinary individuals who have come to learn his lessons. In one of the examples, he tells the story of a girl student in Virginia Tech who spent her election time drinking rather than voting. Afterwards, she became concerned with the global warming and started an environmental movement in her college. On another story, as a young man, Barack Obama was involved in a student movement that was against apartheid. It was during this movement that Obama started catching the eye of the public.
Loeb goes on to narrate the stories of Joan Blades and an eighth grade drop out who designed an innovative job plan. The lesson carried in all those stories is; a mere citizen is capable of bringing great change. Perhaps his greatest motivation came from the anti-war movement in the late 60s during the Vietnam War. During that time, there were several anti-war movements throughout the country operating independently.
Almost every sort of person was attracted to this movement; from campus students, middle class society and even the people in federal institutions were no exceptions. Apparently, this movement revealed the extent of division in the American society. The Stanford campus was no exception either. After learning about the destruction of life and environment in Vietnam by the American military, Loeb decided to join the movement too. The department of Electrical Engineering in his campus was involved in research of bombs being used in Vietnam. Together with his friends, Loeb invaded that department with pictures of Vietnam’s destruction.
This eventually led to his suspension together with his friends. The war later ended after several years of fighting. It is believed (a belief held by many) that the movement played a major role in ending the war. This was a great motivation for Loeb to become a political activist.
What Loeb is teaching in his book is true. Citizens of a country are capable of making any changes they want without the approval of the politicians. This has been well demonstrated by the recent movement in the Arab nations. The citizens of Tunisia and Egypt have managed to evict their presidents without following any written law. This movement was as a result of a horrific act committed by a Tunisian youth. It is true; a single person can make a difference.
Loeb’s teachings have strong basis since every government has the capability of doing more to the people. If one lives in a free democratic country, it is his role to be involved in the affairs of the country. The public should never expect change to come by itself; they should take action if they desire to see any changes. Every registered citizen should vote for his candidate of choice; it is a democratic right which should be taken seriously.
Also, every citizen should belong to a political party of his choice and be updated on its activities. Apart from that, citizens should read newspapers, write to congressmen, volunteer in campaigns and be involved in political forums; especially on the internet. In the Soul of a Citizen, Loeb is trying to remind the public about their democratic rights and how to exploit them. He has no way become an extremist, but he is just among the right minded people.