Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens


Discover healing that reaches beyond the self.

In this landmark work, Marianne Williamson reminds us that there is a point in everyone's spiritual journey where the search for self-awareness can turn into self-preoccupation. All of us are better off when contemplation of holy principles is at the center of our lives. But it is in applying those principles in our lives that we forge the true marriage between heaven and earth.

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Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens

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Discover healing that reaches beyond the self.

In this landmark work, Marianne Williamson reminds us that there is a point in everyone's spiritual journey where the search for self-awareness can turn into self-preoccupation. All of us are better off when contemplation of holy principles is at the center of our lives. But it is in applying those principles in our lives that we forge the true marriage between heaven and earth.

In the compassionate but clear-eyed prose that has won her so many avid readers, Williamson shows us that the principles which apply to our personal healing also apply to the healing of the larger world. Calling on Americans to turn the compassion in our hearts into a powerful force for social good, Williamson shows us how to transform spiritual activism into a social activism that will in turn transform America into a nation seriously invested in the hope of every child and in the potential of every adult.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Patricia Holt San Francisco Chronicle A huge and wondrous surprise....The Healing of America somehow makes us proud to be Americans, because every hope for democracy seems newly within our grasp.

Jann Mitchell The Oregonian A long-needed breath of fresh air.

Yoga Journal This stirring departure from Williamson's usual subject matter cuts to the heart of our dilemma and brings new energy to the search for solutions.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bludgeoning readers with grandiose good intentions, this exuberant exhortation by Williamson (Illuminata) to return to America's founding principles gives the sensation of being assaulted by a college roommate in the throes of a late-night epiphany. Williamson claims that in the "yang" of the Industrial Revolution and our subsequent technological and political expansion, the U.S. lost the "yin" spirit that suffused the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. "We have the yang; we must reclaim the yin. We have the intelligence; we must retrieve our souls." Quoting Martin Luther King Jr. that the means of change "must be as pure as the end," she urges her readers to dare to be conduits of God's love. Williamson's desire to remind her vast readership of the courage and vision of the Founding Fathers and of the connection between social awareness and inner development is commendable, and she has a knack for rendering spiritual concepts in immediate terms ("Anger, like money and white sugar, is a temporary motivator of lower human energies"). Her sweeping generalizations, however, along with her tacit assumption of the banner of leadership, would probably bewilder Thomas Jefferson and company: "We are moving into new territory where we are unable to plug into our own energy sources unless we learn how to convert our thinking. We need adaptersfacilitators of the new consciousness...." And though she promotes the noble idea of turning "spiritual conviction into a political force, as Gandhi did in India and King did in the United States," she numbs with bombast rather than awakening us, as Gandhi and King did, through the living examples of their courage and commitment. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The inspirational writer best known for promoting "A Course in Miracles" here broadens her focus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684846224
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 195,381
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Marianne Williamson
Often called "the voice of her generation," Marianne Williamson has been lecturing on spirituality since 1983. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers: A Return to Love; A Woman's Worth; Illuminata; The Healing of America; and Illuminated Prayers. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Marianne continues to inspire audiences on a global scale as she lectures internationally in the fields of spirituality and new thought.
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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from the Introduction

According to ancient Chinese philosophy, the forces of yin and yang are like night to day, darkness to light, feminine to masculine, inner to outer, heart to head. They balance, border, and complete each other, forming together a unified whole.

To understand this dynamic is to be more fully aware of the rhythms that underlie all things. Our ultimate ground of being -- what the Chinese call the Tao -- is the mystical oneness out of which all worldly manifestation flows. To see how the greater oneness is in constant process of giving birth to two -- that yin and yang might then come together again and give birth to another one -- is to hold the key to greater understanding of anything in the world.

Anywhere there is Great Duality, there is yin and yang: the eternal and the temporal, women and men, philosophy and science, vision and politics. To seek their balance in any situation is to seek the healing of the world. For according to Taoist philosophy, when yin and yang are out of balance,there is tension, disharmony, and discord in the universe. To right the wrong, we must seek to reunite the pieces of the whole that have been torn asunder.

This book is about the yin and yang of American history, the Great Duality of our miraculous beginnings, the ultimate tearing apart of our vision from our politics, and an effort that can now begin in earnest to repair the resulting wounding of our collective soul.

Our Founders embodied the ideals of an extraordinary moment in history. Their philosophical vision was expressed in the Declaration of Independence and their political genius in the Constitution. The balance of their intellectual brilliance with personal courage, philosophical vision with political acumen, and mature serenity with revolutionary fervor created a doorway in a seemingly impenetrable wall of history. A paradigm so leave the common masses of humanity little hope of rising above the station in life into which they had been born, was abolished forever by a group of young Americans who stood up to what was then the most powerful military force in the world and said, "No. We have a better idea."

Most major institutions, from the U.S. government to the Christian Church to the scientific establishment, began with a small group of radicals whose thoughts were considered outrageous by holders of the status quo of their time. To use the German philosopher Hegel's expression, they were "world historic individuals" who took the wheel of history and steered it in another direction. They looked at the world with the pulsating spirit of spontaneity and hope for something better than that which had been before.

America was like a child who was born, grew, and turned out to be a genius. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution raged throughout Europe and the United States, bursting forth from our foreheads seemingly fully grown. Railroads, electricity, factory production -- scientific experimentation and technological prowess came to embellish our dreams and define our ambitions. As this rush of industrial expansion unfolded, the yang of human assertion and physical manifestation was extraordinary. We lost something precious, however, when the yin of greater wisdom, understanding, and perspective was subtly pushed to the side. By the beginning of the twentieth century, attention to the soul had been marginalized by a materialistic focus sweeping across the plains of America's consciousness like a windstorm that wouldn't stop.

Thus was torn asunder the brilliant balance from which America had been born. Money replaced justice as our popular ambition, and the authoritarian business models of the industrial age came to replace democracy as the main organizing principle of American society. We began to backslide, our vision to diffuse. The elements of higher truth and commitment to justice that so imbued our founding were slowly forced into exile in the corners of the American mind. They remained in our documents but no longer in our hearts. The very tyrannies from which we had fought to be free now reappeared among us, but this time we were the oppressors as well as the oppressed.

A fiery personal and political drama -- still raging among us -- began in earnest. America would be home to both slave owner and abolitionist, both conscienceless industrialist and labor reformer, both corporate polluter and world-class environmentalist. The tension itself is not inherently bad, because through it we have the freedom to grow. But we have lost our experience of the great Tao underlying our differences, the coagulating sense of American unity that makes our freedom to disagree all the more important. We have lost our sense that political debate is not what was meant to divide us as a nation, but rather to sustain us. We have left behind the delicate balance between the celebration of our diversity and the dedication to our unity, which lies at the heart of the American ideal.

Although the original ideals handed down to us by our Founders were almost perfect expressions of a commitment to human justice, America has never fully manifested those ideals. That does not mean that we are bad or hypocritical, but merely a nation still in the throes of a greater becoming. We have, from our beginning, been home to both noble and spiritually based political impulses, as well as to the most materialistic and selfish ones. Freedom means that we will be as a nation whatever we, the people, choose to be. The push and pull between two major aspects of our being is the overarching drama of our national life.

In America today, we have critical problems that will not go away without collective dedication and effort. We must apply ourselves to serious problems with a concentration and a sense of purpose that we do not always summon in more normal times. Those who would have us gloss over those problems or deny them do not help us respond. Those who would lead us into cynicism or anger lead us away from healing. We need deep understanding of our collective problems, we need faith, and we need love.

There is so much injustice in America, and such a conspiracy not to discuss it; so much suffering, and so much deflection lest we notice. We are told that these problems are secondary, or that it would cost too much to fix them -- as though money is what matters most. Greed is considered legitimate now, while brotherly love is not. Millions of us see this as an unacceptable violation of spiritual truth. We must create the restoration of our collective conscience, and turn it into political will.

Copyright ©1997 by Marianne Williamson

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Table of Contents




1: Mystical Politics

2: Dreams and Principles

3: National Atonement

4: An American Awakening

5: The Eternals of Finance

6: Old Powers, New Powers

7: Holistic Politics

8: Citizen Power

9: Home of the Brave


Suggested Reading



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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, November 4, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Marianne Williamson, author of THE HEALING OF AMERICA.

Moderator: Welcome to the barnesandnoble.com Live Events Auditorium. Today is Election Day! barnesandnoble.com invites you to share your thoughts on voting and the state of our union with bestselling author Marianne Williamson, who is online to discuss THE HEALING OF AMERICA. Welcome, Marianne Williamson! We are pleased you could join us on Election Day to discuss THE HEALING OF AMERICA.

Marianne Williamson: Thank you. It's lovely to be here.

Justin from Boulder: Why did you decide to concentrate on politics in THE HEALING OF AMERICA? Was there a pivotal moment that caused you to address this subject?

Marianne Williamson: I didn't consciously decide to concentrate on politics. My subject was healing, and I felt my job was to investigate the disease. I was surprised myself to find how much our political system seems to contribute to the festering wounds on the American psyche.

Joanna from Mexico: I live in a country where many of the things that Americans consider "rights" are called "privileges", and these privileges are available to very few. When you talk of "the healing of America," do you refer as well to "the waking up of America"? If Americans could only realize how very lucky they are, there would not be such a need for healing. Being grateful for what we have is one of the paths to happiness and well-being. Would you comment on this please? Thank you.

Marianne Williamson: The point you make is a central thesis in my book, along with the message that our rights will not remain if we are not vigilant in their protection. We are blessed in this country, it is true, but if every generation doesn't strive to secure those blessings, then they will not last.

Corrine Arther from West Port, Connecticut: Hello, Ms. Williamson. I am new to your work -- I read THE HEALING OF AMERICA, and I just picked up ILLUMINATA at a local bookstore. I wonder if you wouldn't mind explaining to me what the Course in Miracles is? Thank you.

Marianne Williamson: A Course in Miracles has been described as a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy. It is not a religion and it is not a doctrine. It is a psychological course in universal spiritual themes. Its goal is the attainment of inner peace through the practice of love and forgiveness.

Yourba from Phoenix: I just read the short description of THE HEALING OF AMERICA. What exactly is "holistic politics"?

Marianne Williamson: In medicine, we have embraced the notion that the mind and spirit of the patient are factors as critical to our healing as is treatment of the body. The same thinking applied to politics posits the notion that the awakened mind and spiritual consciousness of the citizen are as vital to democracy as is anything which occurs in Washington. We tend to look at politicians the way we used to look at doctors; we need to re-create the political domain for the average citizen. We have become emotionally and psychologically dissociated from a critical process. I think we need to turn this around.

Rory from Florida: Marianne, two questionsWhat is your opinion on the way America does politics? I think the people that run for anything promise the citizens the sun, moon, and stars, but they just sit there and do nothing.What is your opinion on our current government?

Marianne Williamson: As I write in my new book, I'm a huge fan of the founding principles of American democracy. That's why I include both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution in my book. So the problem isn't with democracy, or even with politics per se, but rather with the current political establishment. The current system is dominated by the view that the end justifies the means; in many cases politicians do not tell the truth because they fear that to do so would cost them the election. I don't judge this, but I suggest that it's a dead end for the country. We need to create a new political gestalt in America, in which the elucidation of a transcendent political vision is more important than getting elected.

Andrea Leach from Boston: What was your take on our government's response to Jiang Zemin's visit to the U.S. Should it have happened? What, if anything, can we do to atone for the tragedy in Tibet?

Marianne Williamson: This is obviously a very complicated issue. There are many good arguments coming from various sides. Certainly we can all help exert pressure on our own government, to make a powerful stand for human rights in that area. Later on today there will be posted on my Web site ways that you can lobby for the Tibetans and pro-democracy forces in China.

Sassy from LA: I'm not really sure how to vote -- how do I find out all I can about political candidates without buying into what they want us to know? As far as I can tell, everyone seems so corrupt. Thank you for taking my question.

Marianne Williamson: Not everyone is corrupt, but the current system is. There's a very important distinction to be made there. Money so seriously obstructs the democratic process today, and that will not change until we become so outraged that we demand the change. We're plenty disgusted, but we must be more than thatWe must be outraged. Outrage is not anger; it's conscience. It's the spirit of rebellion which Jefferson said we must keep alive in America. There are in every state, and nationally as well, media which tell the truth. Such media is rarely mainstream, I'm afraid, but it exists. What we must do is think for ourselves. Political advertising is so absurd. When you see good candidates running for office, give them the support they need. Listen. Watch. Think. Then act.

Carla from Illinois: Often the argument against acting in the best interest of people (morally), is financial constraints -- Medicare, for instance -- but the market is better than ever! What's your take on this oft-used excuse?

Marianne Williamson: The real political axis in the world today is between those who would order society according to economic principles versus those who would order society according to humanitarian principles. As a nation, we are tempted to buy into the notion that serving the market is more important than serving our children. This is idolatry, and it is also stupid long-term economics. We have many millions of children living in abject poverty in this country, but we are giving over $265 billion in subsidies to the wealthiest corporations in America over the next five years. That money, in my opinion, should be used to forge a Marshall Plan to revitalize the devastated economies of the American inner city. There's no lack of money to save our children; there's simply a lack of political will. Huge corporations hire expensive lobbyists to work for them; all the disadvantaged children in America have is you and me. There are candidates who are bought and sold by those corporations, and there are other candidates who would gladly stand up to them if we supported them in doing so. We currently have a Congress which acts like a puppet show, its strings pulled by corporate America. On the other hand, only 39 percent of eligible voters voted in that election. We're responsible for the current state of affairs and we ourselves are the only ones who can change it.

Amy G. from NYC: Have you worked at all with Michael Lerner? He seems to preach a similar message of the politics of meaning. I've found him very inspirational.

Marianne Williamson: Yes, absolutely.

Marianne from Luigi: Marianne, your tapes have helped me through some very difficult times in my life. I'm not political or familiar with your new book yet -- but I'm going through another one of life's tough times. I'm 36, in the program, always working on myself and trying to do the right thing. I fell in love with someone who is 28. His career is just now starting -- we are at two very different places in our lives. I want a home and a family; I'm ready for the next half of my life. He is just starting, and I feel it isn't fair to put this pressure on him. We discuss everything as best friends, and he actually felt relief when I said we should break up...but we love each other. Are we being practical or superficial?

Marianne Williamson: Only you can know the answer to that. Your heart knows.

Betty Jones from San Diego, CA: OK., I see your point and I strongly agree, but what can I do as an individual to affect American politics?

Marianne Williamson: In my book, I discuss the formation of what amounts to citizen support groups. I call them Citizen's Salons. If you visit my Web site after this interview, you can find whether there are any groups meeting in the San Diego area. The American Renaissance Alliance -- at 805-565-8757 and on the net at www.renaissancealliance.org -- exists to help people replug into the political system in a dynamic but spiritually based way. As an American citizen, you hold the power. The real problem is that we have forgotten that.

Betsy Beamon from Charlotte, NC: Ms. Williamson, I have enjoyed your tapes so much. I have all of them that I could find, and they have changed my life. I agree that the political environment should change but I feel that it can only occur when the hearts of the politicians change. Spiritual values are used as a decoration, but they currently have no substance in politics. As you can't teach an old dog new tricks, perhaps that change lies with our children. However, spiritual values are taboo in the school systems where children spend most of their time. Children are discouraged from prayer and expressing healthy public affection, and live in fear in the classroom. The anecdote has become turning our schools into police states. What are your feelings on this? Also, how can I get information on your latest tapes and locations of your lectures? Thanks.

Marianne Williamson: Everything you say is true. That is why the situation is so critical. We must do nothing less than interrupt the current flow of history. My new book is hopefully some small contribution to the process, and the American Renaissance Alliance a part of it as well. Call 805-565-9165 for information regarding my lectures, and 805-565-8757 for further information regarding our political efforts.

Ollie from Berkeley: You mention Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. as examples of leaders turning their spiritual conviction into a political force. Who would you consider their spiritual and political equivalent today?

Marianne Williamson: Maybe Nelson Mandela, or Václav Havel. My very close friend, Representative Walter Capps from Santa Barbara, died suddenly the other day. He was a very bright light of this kind. There are some very fine people in Washington, you know. But they don't currently wield the power.

Marshall from San Jose: What is your prescription for healing the racial divide in our country?

Marianne Williamson: I see it in two partsatonement, which is spiritual, and a massive plan to revitalize the American inner city, which is material. In my opinion, both are necessary in order to meet the serious challenge in our midst. Poor blacks in America today are the legacy of slavery. We should see job creation, community development, health care, and massive educational efforts for all Americans as our moral responsibility to our nation now as well as to our children and their children. Building prisons is currently our number-one single largest urban industry. We have more people behind bars than any other nation of the world. At present, that is our answer to vast amounts of human suffering and the dysfunction inevitable where such suffering reigns. We should be the generation, I think, to say, quite simply, "We are deeply sorry and we would like to settle the debt now, for the sake of all of America's children."

Gene Wilbur from Vermont: It used to be that liberal Democrats took on the activist role,but now Democrats are so conservative themselves! Who will be the first to undertake this rethinking?

Marianne Williamson: It's certainly true that President Clinton seems to have taken the Democratic Party in a strange direction. There are certainly liberal Democrats left, but once again, they're not really in power. This actually isn't about Democrats versus Republicans or even left versus right. High-minded conservative values are as important as high-minded liberal values. People across the board now recognize that we are sacrificing the health and well-being of millions of Americans, particularly our children, on the altar of short-term economic gain. A true conservative is as appalled by that as a true liberal. Who is going to say these things? How about we, the American people?

Katherine Schmidt from Long Island: What's your take on the Promise Keepers?

Marianne Williamson: The problem in America is never that someone is voicing their opinion. Freedom is not where we all agree, but where we are free to disagree. I appreciated the spiritual power of the Promise Keepers rally, and I also heard them say things I strongly disagreed with. What concerns me most is not what the Promise Keepers or anyone else has said. What concerns me most is what millions of us are feeling in our hearts and not yet saying.

Marilyn from Houston: What are the "First Principles" of our Founding Fathers and what qualities do you think they have that makes them relevant today?

Marianne Williamson: There are eternal principles coded not only in our founding documents but in eternal truthAll men are created equal; power lies not in governments but in people; there is unity in our diversity; we must seek to balance protection of a collective good with individual liberty; and religious as well as political freedom is at the heart of universal good. To uphold these principles is every bit as significant today as it was in 1776. Millions of Americans have literally given their lives for these ideas; shouldn't we be willing to give an hour or two?

Betsy Beamon from Charlotte, NC: Ms. Williamson, do you have any plans to write a book that speaks to teenagers about the issues that they confront today and how the principles in the Course in Miracles can be applied to those issues? The minds are so open to negative doctrines. It would be great to introduce them to something more positive.

Marianne Williamson: I don't know how to write such a book. I have never written for teenagers. But I certainly agree with you that nothing could be more important, and if I'm shown the way, I will do it. The idea feels very full of light. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

Matthew from New Hampshire: What are your feelings about the separation of church and state? I find it interesting that you are advocating an almost religious involvement in our nation's welfare.

Marianne Williamson: The separation of church and state is an enlightened concept, central to our liberty. I am in no way advocating any violation of that separation. The religionization of politics is dangerous, but the spiritualization of our political consciousness is imperative. This is not about religion but about ethics and justice. Justice is love applied to society. Jefferson spoke in such a context. Lincoln spoke in such a context. JFK spoke in such a context. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in such a context. To remove ethics from political conversation is to rob politics of its higher meaning.

Moderator: Thanks for joining us this evening, Ms. Williamson! We appreciate your time and look forward to chatting with you in the future! Goodnight!

Marianne Williamson: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to have been here. For more information, look up my Web site at www.marianne.com or the Renaissance Alliance Web site at www.renaissancealliance.org.

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