Emerson, a former preacher forced from his church for preaching his own radical ideas on Christianity, uses strong arguments to try and get us to understand his individual philosophical perspective. Emerson tries to be the embodiment of every man not merely the writer/intellectual. He seeks affinity with all men striving for individuality, especially those disillusioned with society's constraints. Just because not conforming to the expectations of society was a compelling discovery for Emerson, one hundred and fifty years ago, today it is unlikely to rally the same enthusiasm Emerson had then. Especially when Emerson exhorts:
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world." (Emerson, pg. 876)
Have we found that power to trust ourselves "And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark" (Emerson, pg. 875)
"Self-Reliance" expressed the need for creative ...
The quote "To be great is to be misunderstood" (Emerson, pg. 879) exemplified those who shunned ideas regarding new thought and theory during his time.
Today's era echo's a different chord. We constantly thrive on the newest and latest in writing, music, television and video games. We are easily bored with things unimaginative, over used and over-romanticized. Entertainment has become very individualized.
As for self-sufficiency, what kid attending his first day of school isn't already inundated with the prospect of being programmed to become self-reliant If a child appears too dependant early on, parent-teacher conferences are soon in order to correct the problem. Independence is revered; free spiritedness that creates chaos is frowned upon, in classrooms and in society. Emerson muses:
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." (Emerson, pg. 877)
Again, Emerson's romantic notion of the free thinker on his mountain top living by his own set of values and beliefs is not a new concept today. Our society freely condones creative thinking as long as it doesn't infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others. We've gone full-circle in terms of expressing individuality and freedom. Our freedom