The Arrogant Emerson and Self-Reliance Essay

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The Arrogant Emerson and Self-Reliance

"To believe your own thought, to believe that which is true for you in your private heart is true for all men-that is genius" (Self-Reliance and Other Essays, 19). This statement from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson provides a summary of the ideas that transcendentalism centered around. Emerson believed that man is innately good, and that if he were left to his own devices without the structures of society and laws boxing him in, he would create a utopian society very different from the one Emerson lived in. Emerson's ideas make sense in many situations where the influence of society drowns out the voices of individuals, such as African Americans before the Civil Rights movement, or
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The statement establishes that Emerson believes that if man drowned out the noise of others and listened to what he believed in his own heart, he would be right. Therefore, he would need no help. Emerson's idea hinges on the belief that man is innately good, so if that were true, theoretically his process could work. In my experience, however, this method has not worked. When my family moved from New York when I was ten years old, we left our church and never really found a new one that we liked in Denver. Gradually I began to grow farther away from my religious beliefs and farther from God. I still believed in God, and that Jesus his son died for my sins, but I didn't think about challenging issues in my faith or examine what I truly believed. My faith became less and less important to me, and I started to focus on it less than ever before. Then in ninth grade, I moved to Tennessee as a boarder. When I came I found a church, and I gradually re-embraced my faith. Every week I got closer to God and got deeper into what I believed. However, I did not dig deeper on my own. It was only with the help of youth ministers as well as friends and Bible studies that I started to follow what I knew with questions. These people helped me continue to go deeper into what I believed and why I did. Without their help, I would never have achieved the sense of understanding in my faith that I have. If I had followed the ideas that Emerson

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