Response to "Self-Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
I believe that, essentially, life consists of a series of choices. A grouping of these choices in one direction or another makes us who we are, and ultimately we have control over our lives. What makes one person different from another is his own set of choices. When going through life's motions, we develop certain worldviews and ideas and values to live by. We develop an opinion of what makes a person "great." In the well-known essay "Self-Reliance", Ralph Waldo Emerson provides a beautiful way of approaching these choices, and he reveals a very inspiring set of values centralized around going through life answering only to yourself. I love the way Emerson evaluates the society we live in, and how he radically encourages being misunderstood and nonconformist. Emerson, like myself, exhibits values of saying exactly what you think and living only by what you believe to be the best.
If I can successfully shape my life around ideas of self-reliance I can be exactly who I want to be. I look around me and don't want to conform to society's standards, I recognize that there is an easy way out, but try my best to remain true to myself by following my heart with pure conviction. Because of my desire to remain true to myself, I closely identify with Emerson in "Self-Reliance": "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."
Emerson's views of society really speak to me as well. In order for me to be self-reliant, I must recognize that society wants every one of its members to have a cookie-cutter image and personality which I am constantly trying to break free of. I share this view of society with Emerson: "Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The...