I know there are a dozen interpretations of this phrase out there, (just check songmeanings.com and you'll know what I mean), but being curious little me, I just had to have a hand at trying to decipher it for myself.
Let's just cut straight to the chase then. Soul, a very very interesting word. Many don't believe in it's existence. We humans use it to describe part of us that we just can't explain. Deep within us, we have a conscience, and an awareness -- almost a being, and we don't know what it is. It's our spirit, the core of our very being. We call it our soul. Lots of people don't believe in it. They dismiss it as our wild imagination.
When one says he has soul. What does he really mean? That he posseses that extra bit in him that makes him human? That he enjoys the 'soul' genre of music? That he believes in the human spirit, the human touch and his spirituality? I believe it takes a lot of courage to identify and to acknowledge that soul of yours. To admit that you are in touch with your spiritual side, and that you're aware of it. It is brave to admit that you know that there's something within you that borders on the supernatural, the inexplicable. The whole Harry Potter concept where dementors suck the soul out of you turns you cold all over because you know how terrible it would feel if it ever happens. So saying 'you've got soul' is an act of bravery, and one of courage, because you are also noting the fact that the existence of your soul can just cease. That someone or something can just take it away. That you can actually lose your soul. Scares me to bits? Hell yeah. Do you think it therefore involves lots of guts to say that very line? I definitely think so.
Haven't you heard of the term 'selling your soul'? Where people make offhand remarks about how much they want something. 'I would sell my soul to be given that opportunity!' It makes my blood run cold to hear such talk. It has a very negative, even satanic connotation when one talks about 'selling' one's soul. It's an assumption among the religious community that when you 'sell your soul', you are giving it to the devil in return for his/its favours. Now we have heard of people getting so desperate for sustenance they would sell their organs (the booming black market organ trade). There is a 'Kidney Village' in India, and the people there all survive with only one kidney in their malnourished bodies. They live in such poverty, and the only way they get money is by selling their kidneys for some cash. It sounds frightening enough to sell your organs (which is ENTIRELY different as compared to donating your kidney for your dying kid or something, mind you). Imagine how much worse selling your soul would be? The soul is supposed to be what's left of you once your worldly being is gone. Would you want what's left of you to be in the devil's hands? Or in a buyers hands? Are you really so mercenary you would sell part of your very existence? One that you really can't do without?
This picture depicts how the angel of death claims the soul of a man in bed. See the wavy lines? That's his soul, people.
Let's think about a soulless being. What would it be like? I can picture a juicebox. An empty one. One that makes a hollow noise when it falls on the floor. One that can be blown off the tabletop with just a small gust of wind. The person will feel empty. He or she will not think and feel like the rest of the human race anymore. No more conscience. No more emotions from deep inside. Just an empty space. That's reason enough for one to say 'I've got soul', and to say it out loud! It may take courage, but the absence of it is much worse, don't you think?
Moving on to the next half of the phrase 'I'm not a soldier'. The whole phrase turns out contradictory here. This is because it takes A LOT of courage to be a soldier. So the person saying 'I've got soul, but i'm not a soldier' claims that he has the courage, yet he has no intention of being a soldier. When you mention soldier, the first thing that comes to mind is the military troops sent to Iraq. They seem to be fighting for a lost cause, and so many of them have ended up dead. They seem to be forced into going for a war they just don't want to fight.
The Americans say 'Pull our troops out of Iraq!' but the US leaders pay them no heed. Each soldier there plays multiple roles, not just being a soldier. He may be a father, a son, a husband, a grandfather, an uncle, a friend. He is probably leaving that all behind to fight for the country. He probably is never going to see his family, his friends again. He probably would only see yet another suicide bomber attack before leaving this world for good. You may argue that soldiers put their lives on the line for a good cause. True. The cause is questionable. What isn't is the bravery and courage of it all.
I feel that it's a really sad fact that the adults aren't the only ones fighting wars here. We see child soldiers.
These are child soldiers in the Republic of Congo. People quote that these kids are having their childhood stolen from them in broad daylight. You have no idea what these kids have been through. Children in Democratic Republic of Congo are facing one hurdle after another. First, they were the victims of the diamond trade and witchcraft abuse and no sooner than the authorities could do anything to tackle it, they are now at risk of exploitation.
More than 19,000 child soldiers were freed during the year 2004 and 2006, but there are few more thousands of them who are until date employed with the armed forces. Almost 30-40% of the child fighters are girl combatants, who are often subjected to molestation and rapes as well. This is the problem here. Children are forced into the military, when they aren't even old enough to understand what they're fighting for anyway. The idea of actually letting these children know what death, hate, war and the horror of it all makes my stomach churn. Do these kids have the courage it takes to be soldiers? I don't think they have even understood the entire concept of courage yet, but they're forced to at such a tender age. It disgusts me that adults can't just leave the children out of this. They can't even fight their own wars, and use these innocent children as their champions to win battles instead. The world stands aside and watches. No one has the decency to say that 'it's a mess we adults made, and it's a mess that we adults have to clean up'. We just stand aside and watch these children fight our wars for us. Wars they don't even want, or even understand. One thing's for sure, it takes every ounce of courage within their frail, pre-pubescent bodies to wake up and lead the life they live each day.
So what does it mean? 'I've got soul, but i'm not a soldier'? It simply means that you may have all the courage in the world, but you just don't want that to mean you have to be a soldier. True, it takes plenty of bravery and courage to take up the occupation of a military officer. You may have what it takes, but wars may not be where you want to channel that courage to. You believe in yourself, and you trust in your beliefs. That does not mean that you solve problems by fighting. I think there's a simple yet important message in this term - that fighting wars does not prove that you're courageous. People should be brave by taking up the challenge of solving issues without bloodshed and fighting.
It takes courage to keep wars from taking place. To sustain life, instead of destroying it. It takes courage to make sure your soul is in the right place.