Self-Reliance

18 May 2007 /

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.

 

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

 

God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.

 

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

 

Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?

 

Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet. Let him not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity-boy, a bastard, or an interloper, in the world which exists for him.

 

The sinew and heart of man seem to be drawn out, and we are become timorous, desponding whimperers. We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other.

 

Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide: him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our love goes out to him and embraces him, because he did not need it.

 

A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

One Comment on Self-Reliance »

  1. 20 May 2007 @ 6:38 am


    I am not quite the literary scholar that the author of eppsnet is, but I was required to remember the RWE quote “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

    Mr. Brandt used to make us write that on every test my sophomore year in high school. It was supposed to keep us from cheating.

    It had an effect on me, though I am sure that I cheated from time to time. Later in life I have often thought of this quote with positive internal outcomes 🙂

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