“Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times” A book by Eyal Press
Eyal Press’ book “Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times” is a stunning, deeply stirring collection of true stories about the most unlikely of heroes: four men and one woman who chose uncomfortable, and in some cases potentially lethal, courses of action because they could envision doing nothing else.
None sought to be heroes. None were motivated by external validators such as money, power or fame. Indeed, in all cases, the opposite occurred—loss of money, influence and status. They acted, rather, out of a profound sense of empathy and compassion, putting the needs of the “many” before their own.
Throughout the book, Press presents theories, experiment results and analyses of what motivates people to nonconformity, quoting luminaries such as Hannah Arendt and Adam Smith. But in the end, theories are just that. Press’ message is that people can, and do, have the capacity to make humanity-preserving choices, regardless of the obstacles. It is not because they are radicals, but because they witness something terribly wrong in the system they trust.
Leyla Wydler was a successful financial adviser at Stanford Group Co., making $150,000 a year in 2002. The last chapter, The Price of Raising One’s Voice, follows her decade-long fight after she blew the whistle on her employer, Allen Stanford, who was the perpetrator of a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, one of the largest in U.S. history. In addition to using his ill-gotten gains for extravagant living and influencing politicians, Stanford paid handsome bonuses to salespeople to sell fraudulent CDs to clients. Yet, his crimes went uninvestigated for years. On June 14, 2012, Stanford was finally sentenced to 110 years in prison, convicted of 13 felonies. ...................(more)