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Has Our Soul Been Taken?

woman meditating during a morning sunrise

The true identity theft is not financial. It’s not in cyberspace. It’s spiritual. It’s been taken.”

Stephen Covey

Portrait of Stephen Covey.
Stephen Covey

Born in 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Stephen Covey was an American educator and taught at Brigham Young University. He fathered a large family and died in 2012. As an author, his greatest achievement was his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which is cited as the most influential book in business education in the 20th Century.

There has been much written and discussed about our materialistic society. As a group, we collectively pursue the relentless acquisition of goods which has resulted in a spectacularly prodigious amount of personal debt. I do not wish to enter into a discussion or debate about how this materialism came to be. But this reality is the backdrop for Stephen Covey’s words cited above.

Covey speaks of the current issue of identity theft. Our personal identity is sacred to all of us. The theft of our name and official government identifiers, like social insurance numbers, is a vexing problem that the existence of cyberspace has made more dangerous than ever before. Victims of identity theft face financial ruin and, perhaps, criminal and civil consequences in the courts.

And yet, Covey boldly states that true identity theft is not about financial loss or about cyberspace criminals. No, he claims that we are the victims of the theft of our spiritual identity. He also claims that our spiritual identity has been taken – not lost. Really?

For most of my life, the spiritual realm and religion were one and the same. Certainly, there is a relationship between the two, but they are not synonymous, not the same. The human spirit is not necessarily about religion in general or about a specific religion. I believe that everyone possesses a soul, the spiritual core of our being. We cannot see it, hear it, or feel it. But it is powerful.

Many people turn to religion to satisfy their spiritual needs. And for some, religion has become a badge of social respectability that one has earned by attending church regularly – saying all the right prayers and singing the right hymns. For them, it goes no farther. Others work hard to live the tenets of their chosen faith in their daily lives. But religion is not for everyone because the rules and regulations of formal religions can be restrictive.

Our common spirituality transcends religious practices and communities. The human spirit is about the values and personal truths we hold dear. These realities are not our birthright as humans, but they must be cultivated through great personal effort. It means setting aside alone time to meditate or think deeply about the things we truly value. To question ideas that originate within ourselves and from others. What do we truly value? Things? Yes, sadly, things.

I believe that Covey is telling us that our craving for material possessions which has been institutionalized into mass shopping sprees on days designated by the corporations that profit from them, has driven us not only into deep personal debt but also into a soulless existence. Our education system prepares us for jobs. Jobs are our means to earn a living. Those jobs give birth to an overwhelming need to be promoted into higher-paying jobs so that we may acquire more things.

We are not being educated to live our lives well. We are not encouraged to seek out and meditate on the wisdom of those who went before us. In fact, we are not encouraged to meditate at all! Where are we now? We are facing ecological disaster and extinction. Are we waking up to the fact that our rampant materialism has stolen our souls? No, it doesn’t look like it. Listen carefully to the messages of politicians running an election campaign. Look at the commercials on television. What does our behaviour reveal about our values?

I agree with Stephen Covey but I’m not prepared to write off the human race just yet. It is clear we need to nurture our spiritual identity. How we do that is a matter of choice. But we need to take back our spirituality.

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

9 thoughts on “Has Our Soul Been Taken?”

  1. Spirituality is believing, moral goodness, kindness, and really a core foundation for who we are. Without spirituality we become driven by external factors, not by our own well being. As such, we can’t give and do for others, and our society erodes. Powerful stuff. Excellent post, John. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well put, Jennie. I agree, without a well-developed spirituality, we don’t have much to offer others, much less to ourselves! Thanks for your insight!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A thought-provoking post, John. I have to agree with Covey. We have become so embedded in the materialistic world that we neglect the needs of our soul and spirit. However, it’s reflections like that remind us to take that deep breath and focus on what really matters – the moment we are in! Thank you, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jan! I agree it’s all about our own focus. No one put a gun to our heads and forced us to be materialistic and less attentive to our spiritual growth. As you say, be in the moment and focus on the important things.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this reflection, John. It made me think of a quote by Albert Camus which reads: “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” The innocence of these words gets to the heart of the concerns you’ve articulated so well. Perhaps in our busy, driven lives, we have forgotten what it means to be a friend, to walk with another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this reflection, Gwen. I think there are a lot of things that we seem to have little time in which to invest. You are so right when you reference “our busy, driven lives”. It seems clear that we are not driven to what is truly important in life. Again, thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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