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Emerson's Self Reliance

Personal Development

On a random aside, one of my favorite authors from years gone by is Ralph Waldo Emerson. I know that Ugly is exploring Ayn Rand’s Objective philosophies and I suggest he read Emerson’s Essay on Self Reliance as part of his “spiritual” growth.

If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life.

A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.

Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him,” and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor, and make his name dear to all history.

It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their association; in their property; in their speculative views.


I’m pulling this post back out of the archives to remind me that Ron Paul is an asshole. His son, Rand Paul is an even bigger asshole. I made a mistake supporting the Tea Party in the early days, I was blind to the ass-fuckery and pure evil that the Tea Party brought to our political system and our country.

Update 2

The key to the ‘common good’ lies in a single word in Emerson’s eassy, it’s ‘Stoic.’ One of the key tenants in Stoicism is that you should work toward the common good. After years of seeing how this ‘selfish’ manifesto of Ayn Rand has engrained itself in one political party, it makes sense to disavow those teachings all completely.

I like Emerson’s essay not because Ayn Rand’s objectivism appears to align itself with a percieved ‘rugged individualism’ but because it better aligns with living by virtue and taking action. There are things that are beyond your control in life, like losing a job or getting sick. The key is ‘how you react to it’, your reaction is in your control. Be the same mind in good and bad times.

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