THE WEIGHT OF THE SOUL
Shortly before my cat, who was my companion for 19 years, died the other day, I picked her up and held her. She was already leaving this world. Her breath was shallow, her body limp. I swear she weighed less than she did the night before. There is a theory that the soul has weight — 21 grams — and that when someone dies, they weigh 21 grams less because the soul has left the body and moved on. I don’t know if anyone has ever proved or disproved the theory. I only know what I felt that morning, long before dawn, when I cradled her in my arms and wept over her.
I’ve wondered, in the days since, how much the soul of a country weighs. America and its unique government, as crafted by the Founding Fathers and structured in our Constitution, came about because of the conviction in men’s souls that people should be free, endowed with the rights of liberty, empowered by the knowledge that they are the heart of the government. The principles that are the foundation of America have weight, and have made this country the most powerful in the world — not because of tyranny but because of freedom and an adherence to higher principles.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.”
So what happens to the soul of this country when a man who has been elected president, before he is even sworn in, acts as if he’s the master who can do whatever he wants? A man who shows disdain for the ethics and principles that have always guided the highest office in the land. A man who has refused to release his tax returns, refused to put his wealth into a blind trust, refused to honor the ethical obligation to make sure there is no actual or perceived conflict of interest on any front. A man who has flippantly said, It isn’t the law so there’s nothing you can do to make me comply. A man who has shown no respect for the fact that he isn’t actually the president yet. A man who sends out petulant tweets with no apparent concern that he is firing off hostile messages into an already unstable world. A man who is so arrogant he doesn’t believe he needs security briefings.
What happens to the soul of America when our exquisite form of government, based largely on principle and dignity, is eroded from within? We are in a time when the future of this country has less to do with power and more to do with the substance of our collective souls. Donald Trump is sending out messages about increasing our nuclear power. He is suggesting a Muslim registry, which is what they do in countries run by dictators and tyrants. We’re in a war already — we’re in a war for the soul of this country. The power that will allow America to remain and to thrive will not come from weapons, it will come from within. We haven’t elected a president who understands that. Which means We the People have been handed that responsibility. How we handle it is what will determine the future of America. No country is too powerful to fail and, if we don’t fight for the ideals and principles — born from the souls of the Founding Fathers — the soul of America will drift away, and we will preside over the dismantling of the greatest country the world has known.