Self-Reliance Will Save You From the 21st Century

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-reliance is giving yourself the trust, the faith, the confidence, and the responsibility to find your inner spirit and express its power through your own personal calling and works.

Back in 1841, the transcendentalist philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote a now very famous essay called “Self–Reliance”. In that essay, Mr. Emerson describes self-reliance as the internal power that gives a person the ability to find themselves and their independence from society’s often smothering influences. Ralph believed conformity to societal norms can actually have a negative impact on a person’s individual development and self-sufficiency. He encouraged people to think and act on their own and not how others want them to. One of Mr. Emerson’s main points in the essay was that an individual should find who they are, and not what society or their religion expects them to be. Self-reliance is about finding, not your church’s voice, not your school’s voice, not your political party’s voice, but your own personally honest inner voice.

Self-reliance says Emerson, doesn’t just involve the mind; it also means relying on yourself to become your own person. It means not being dependent on others or their charity to propel you through life. That means being responsible to yourself for paying your bills, tending to your health needs, and feeding and clothing yourself. Being self-reliant means being honest and true to both yourself and others. Becoming self-reliant can require courage for some as it calls on the person to develop their own culture of trust in themselves, the desire to search for excellence in their labors, and the strength to concentrate on individual improvement and integrity. It can be easy for some, but quite difficult for others.

Here in the 21st century we are faced with a heavy dependence on society and the ills it can bring to the individual. From permitting political correctness, condoning biased unhealthy media and their fact-free analysis, allowing social shaming over digital networks, fomenting strife among the races, and carelessly polluting our planet, we too often look to the government rather than ourselves to fix the problems facing our nation. It is time we looked less toward an ever increasingly dysfunctional congress and its debilitating divisiveness, and more to our better selves to improve our lot. A man or woman can never be themselves when they are beholden to another for their independence. A person will never find peace when they look to another to save them from what with effort they would be able to extricate themselves. Freedom has never been free, but it damn sure is worth fighting for.

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