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Will America Loose its Soul to Gain the World?

Updated on January 12, 2014

"What shall it prophet a man if he gains the whole world and looses his soul?"

America has found it's courage, it's voice and the heart to fight for those freedoms collected to us in "The Declaration Of Independence" and in a "Constitution" that insures those freedoms with perpetuity. I fear we are leaving something behind in our hurry and in doing so, America may be loosing its collective soul.

The preservation of our inalienable rights are essential to who we are; a people governed by our own consent and the guardians of our liberty, against any that would come against it's promise, including those entrusted with the privilege of representing us. Americans have always been fiercely independent. We were forged in the fires of revolution, hammered out upon an anvil of just and irrevocable rights and hardened by a resolve, that the world should tremble to take it from us. We are born of an inherent nobility that elevates us higher than the invisible emptiness of class or status. We are born free men, clothed in an equality, which our souls knew, recognized and took without consent, because we knew there was none higher to grant consent, than the free men that took it and embraced it to themselves.

Across America today, I hear a new and resounding anthem. Its words are littered in angry conversations and it strikes our ears with the popular melody of a new and improved individualism, free from the restraints of the soul which encumbered our pursuit of "absolute" liberty. A soul which was forever whispering to our conscience, that we are bound in our humanity by compassion, free or slave, rich or poor, whether daily life or in our final breath.

Today we are in danger of not only disliking the poor, but we are moving in a direction which is leading us to despise them. It begins with a reason not to care and each day another new and improved, stronger American, begins to sing the words of the emerging anthem, " the poor, the disenchanted, the impoverished, the infirmed, the homeless, the dysfunctional, the economically stricken, the mentally handicapped, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, have all brought this condition upon themselves and it is their privilege to wallow in the sewer of their misfortune." Today I hear a collective voice whispering that the poor are draining the coffers of prosperity and all the while, corporate wolves are washing our retirements down with scotch and water.

My soul knows neither the count nor the measure of those deserving what they bring upon themselves, but it whispers to me that if deserving and undeserving are to be judged, it will be better done by the one who is whispering in my deep. That lazy and undeserving men come to steal advantage from the pockets of compassion does exist in our time and it has always existed and shall never go away. That we should diminish the substance of our souls to right the ship, will in the end, leave us wrecked upon the rocks of individualism, for compassion is and has always been the compass of honorable men.

Our pursuit of individual right, of independence, is not in jeopardy. Compassion does not come to steal our wealth, it comes to define our wealth. Compassion is an inner voice, crying in the wilderness. I see you. I am here and you are not alone." It is the last thing in us that should ever die and it is, today, in danger of dying before it's time. We can not address the menace of poverty until first we care and if we find new reasons not to care, our light will die, we will loose our souls and still, we will not have gained the world.

"Mercy triumphs over judgement." If there is one who put the whisper in our souls, He will again, tell us that it is so. Perhaps it is so, not because the poor are so in need of us, but because, without them, we lose the need of anything but ourselves. If we are advancing a welfare state we do so while simultaneously advancing corporate kingdoms immune to the penalties of just procedure. " The poor will always be among you" was not a statement endorsing the struggle and misery which lurks in the shadows of an unjust world; it was a statement proclaiming the perpetuity of an inequality belonging to the human race. It isn't within us to cure such ill, but, who we are as people, will be forever defined, proportionate to our effort to try.

There are answers and though they will never rid the world of absolute poverty or it's residual ill, our effort will reflect the light of a goodness which refused surrender.

I do not fault any man, who from his labor, tires in giving to the increasing masses of destitute that come to bear upon his independence or the just reward, which he should reap from individual enterprise, but, I fear men, who look upon the poor and say, "they have brought it upon themselves." Perhaps they have to some degree. but it doesn't matter, because the whisper does not come to talk to me about who they are; It comes to tell me, who I am. It rises from the deep within me and it whispers, " what will it prophet a man if he gains the whole world and looses his soul?"

Entitlements, welfare, medicaid, food stamps and runaway government programs , all come to drain the collective efforts of a people who labor to preserve an ideology that promises us the pleasure of our labor. It comes upon us, disguised as a helping hand, but, it has become a hand that refuses retreat, because it grows accustomed to a warmth provided by our collective pockets. If we grow a welfare state ,it isn't because the poor have abused our generosity; it is because we have become proficient at throwing money at something we hope will go away. It is our convenient hope that enough money will make the problem go away and when it doesn't we turn our collective anger upon those who merely took the only remedy we offered. Perhaps the real problem is that we have come to veiw the people rather than poverty as a problem.

Our current remedy will not ease the self inflicted ill we bring upon ourselves nor will it ease the burden that beds the poor with money printed in the ink of empty promises. Measuring the value of a people by the weight of their collective imposition on our individual wealth will not elevate the thing that makes us human. Our view is determined by the window from which we choose to see the thing that confronts our vision. Sometimes we need to look out from the opposite window 'less we become imprisoned by the narrowness offered in a single view.

I am not fond of rising taxes which impose constraints upon my pursuit of comfort or its inherent burden upon my individual liberty. I tire of the perpetual disproportionate taxation of my labor that falls aimlessly on wastelands that will grow neither change nor cabbage. I tire of that measure of my work which I must do before any of the work I do belongs to me and I tire mostly, because all I give does not quench a desert needing more than the water I indiscriminately spill upon the ground.

Though I tire, something in me whispers. " Do not tire of the thing that makes you human." The preservation of our collective soul wants more from us than simply making the problem go away. It wants from us to see one another not in terms of a problem but as a people in need of an attention that requires more from us than money will ever buy. It wants to preserve in us, that we are connected regardless of color, creed or status. It wants above all, that we care. That we separate the poverty from the people.

To grow a change we must plant the seed of change. We must then tend and havest what we plant. If we continue to plant distrust and blame and fear, then we will reap the same. We will reap teams, harvested from the soil of the discontent. If we will instead plant compassion into the soil of our hearts, then we will havest a care from there which can separate the dirt from the crop. People are not the problem; poverty is the problem and once the dirt is washed away, we are all very much the same. Caring will yeild the answers that money can not grow because money is not a seed. It is merely fertilizer. We keep planting it and nothing grows because fertilizer without the seed is simply ground with empty hope.

In the end, the resolution of our economy, will not come from programs meant to build a people, because people are not built by programs. People are built by people, but, how do you build a thing, that you refuse to see? How do you build a people you despise? When we see the people within the poor, instead of the poor within the people, then we will see a change that money will not buy. That the poor, may have brought some of this upon themselves, is not the issue, It isn't about them; It is about us. It is about the preservation of compassion, because, compassion should always be, even in our final breath, the last thing in us to ever die. If we lose it, what will it matter, if we have the world? Let us seed the ground with compassion. As it takes root and breaks the ground, we as a nation will harvest much more than individual gain; We will have found our collective soul.


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    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from oregon

      When a new and corupted individualism takes hold of our spirit, our view of others begins to wallow in suspicion. Thanks for the visit and a comment which encourages such effort.

    • Freeway Flyer profile image

      Paul Swendson 

      7 years ago

      In a world with so many complex problems, it's hard to allow yourself to feel empathy and compassion for others. It's easier to either donate money / support social programs or blame the poor for their problems. The problem is that both of these responses - and the repression of our instinctive compassion - can limit our ability to feel much of anything.

      Thanks for such a passionate, non-ideological hub.

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 

      8 years ago

      Right on target, arb, well said!

      Perhaps there are a lot of people out there who feel they are better than those who are going through tough times. Thank God our government still helps people out, because many churches and self-righteous people won't.

      Sometimes a person brings challenges and difficulties upon themselves by employing poor judgment, but at other times they are not to blame for economic hardships and other troubles that come their way. Just read the Book of Job in the Holy Bible's Old Testament as one example.

      Just had a situation a couple years back where a woman came to our little Baptist church during Boy Scouts; she needed a place to stay the night and needed some gas money. According to her, she was trying to get away from an abusive relationship and was a thousand miles from home.

      I found it hard to believe that those in the Boyscout program (and members of the church), did not want to help this woman because they thought she was "pulling a fast one". I told them that was a possibility, but what if she really needed our help? I admitted there was no way to know for sure, but one thing was for certain, I was not going to allow her to sleep in her car, while these affluent "saints" passed judgment and looked down their noses at her.

      I impressed upon them that God will judge her if she is taking advantage of a little church, but He will judge us if we refused to help someone that is truly in need. In the end, she got the help she needed, but not from them. Shortly after this episode, I stopped attending church with them.

      Moreover, Oprah Windbag has extensively promoted a concept called "The Secret". The premise of this philosophy is that if you want something bad enough, you can have it (if you put your mind to it). You will also hear t.v. ministers, like Joel Osteen, promote a doctrine very similar to this, but within his circle it is called prosperity preaching (a rose by any other name is still a rose).

      In the end, there are a lot of things that happen to people and sometimes, through no fault of their own, bad things happen and conversely, sometimes good things happen to people through no fault of their own.

      Regardless of the circumstances we would be wise to remember the Words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:11, "Again I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, or bread to the wise, or riches to the discerning, or favor to the skillful; rather, time and chance happen to all of them."

      And finally, Proverbs 22:2, "The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD made them both." Puts things in perspective rather well, at least it does for me. God's blessings to you and yours. - L.R.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you, Arb. I very much look forward to following you too.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      I do agree with your assessment of the current welfare net. Personally, I don't believe individuals will ever rise to the plight of the poor in sufficient numbers so a net is essential. The current net is wrought with abuse, corruption, idleness, waste and appearance. The system is broken and rather than fixing the net we are telling them to fix it themselves. Meanwhile, they will birth another generation of like mindedness that simply thinks that this is how it works and we will watch the merry go round, go round and round. I am delighted to have met a thinker. I shall visit your hubs and perhaps, we shall think together again. BTW, I wrote a hub called America the Beautiful, isn't Just a song. I think you might enjoy it. Be well new friend!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles


      You are so right that the poor will always exist, and I do have compassion for them. It humbles me to serve among those less fortunate through community service. I also see that anyone of us could slip and fall into the same circumstances, so it is unfair to judge. My point is that our government's welfare net, with all good intentions, often does more to weaken people with dependency than alleviate the problem. We, as individuals, need to take the time to reach out to people in need or support the organizations that do. The crux is that most people either wear blinders or think that all poor are just lazy drunks. It's a shame.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hello cat! The poor have always been and they will always be. The reason for their neglect changes with with every political climate. So it goes around the world. Sometimes we simply wait a reason and ride it as far as it will go. Sometimes, we can't tell the difference between a reason or excuse. Money will never deliver the poor, but, enough caring and they will not know that they are poor.

      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments. Be well.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Arb, I really enjoyed your beautifully written hub and appreciate your compassion. It is true that many Americans have come to resent the poor and needy- even blaming them for our economic woes; however, our government perpetuates this resentment by feeding our welfare state. I believe that compassion and philanthrophy are things that each of us should learn from childhood. Charities are struggling today from lack of support because the gov't is already taking enough. Wallets have snapped shut. Unfortunately, bureaucracy is highly inefficient. Administrative costs skim off a huge portion before it even reaches the true sources of need.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Wow! tnderhrt, what gracious compliment. Funny thing is what pleases me even more, is to find compassion in my fellow writers. Be well dear friend.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image


      8 years ago

      "for compassion is and has always been our compass."...I rise from my seat and wildly applause!!! I salute you, arb, for your eloquence, heart, and courage! WOW...I am in awe!

    • crystolite profile image


      8 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice write up that is well shared question that should be answered by Americans.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Thanks Alastar, I appreciate your words. It is a contentious subject today, but, one that begs reflection.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      arb, this is one of the best hubs I've read since being here.Those who show no compassion will receive none.I wish every middle or high school student had this to read for today. Thanks arb

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Thanks Jillian, Difficult hub to write. It rubs a lot of us the wrong way. Thanks for the encouragement though. Be well

    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Donna Lichtenfels 

      8 years ago from California, USA

      Dear Arb,

      What can I say? You have said it all!

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Good morning b. I'm sure that abuse is more prevelant today than in our day and that our work ethic has diminished with passing generations, but, the reasons are more complex than what we see on the surface sometimes. Lets hope there is a turning back from both sides.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Hey Ben, Thanks for the correction, the product of a 3:00 a.m. write. I have confidence in what got us here, and I believe that we always find our way back. We just get sidetracked occasionally. Thanks, Ben for the read and your comments. Be well, my young friend.

    • BenWritings profile image


      8 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee

      Arb, I hate to be the one who corrects you on anything, but it's just in my blood to notice spelling and grammar.

      Don't hate me, but in your title, "loose" needs to be "lose" and "it"s" needs no punctuation.

      Sorry ! haha

      I also hate to say this, but I have believed for a while that the United States have no soul left.

      I feel like politics, petty disputes, violence, and division between our people have run rampant for far too long.

      This is a good hub, and unfortunately I believe our downfall is near.

      Thanks for sharing

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      8 years ago

      What a Wonderful, Passion Hub, Arb, it shows your true Soul. However, the poor, when my GrandParents were growing up, strived to become Something. They worked, hard, long hours. They saved, they moved on, Educated their Children and learned the American Language. They were proud translation, a lot of what first made this Country Great is now lost... in translation...Just one woman's opinion.


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