Wednesday, April 14, 2010

“ Where’s Waldo?”

Quoting from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay ‘Self Reliance’, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. These words should be an anthem for us all and one of the FIRST things you teach your children. Well ok, maybe not THOSE 19th century words exactly or by your kid’s crib-side, but you know what I mean. Why has society turned to the dulled malaise of the collective mind and so far away from Emerson’s ideals of relying on oneself?

Now Ralphy was by no means perfect and much of his philosophical leanings grew over time and after a series of personal tragedies which defined much of his opinions. However, Emerson was always a bit ‘different’ and an independent thinker, which especially in the 1840’s made him unique among his peers. I am not proposing that you immediately seek to be a contrarian or deny good social graces just to demonstrate your individualism. On the contrary, I encourage you to prod and GROW yourself, your friends, and your children to NOT demonstrate anything for ANYONE. They need to have the presence of self and the independent strength to simply choose, THEIR way for THEMSELVES; not just what they believe is the popular or cool way for others.

Self reliance means much more than the literal dictionary pairing that the words may imply. Just under the surface, those words embody all the stuff that ALL people should be made of – Independence, pride, strength of character etc. Who needs cliques, peers, and political parties to TELL you what to think? Everyday should be your day to express YOUR beliefs and the way you choose to live your life – not what society, government, doctrine, or your friends expect. If all those entities truly care about you, then they will VALUE you and your opinions just as strongly as ever, even if you do not exhibit a carbon copy of their beliefs.

I heard a quote recently which made me wince a little – “Liberty is not always pretty”. I thought about how poignantly true that statement is, not just in the political sense but in the personal one as well. Sometimes to go your own way takes guts and determination which are not qualities always easy to teach. Heck, anyone with teenagers, knows that ‘growing up’ involves a lot of struggle and it is not conflict for the faint of heart. But at the end of the day, when your kids grow into REAL self-confident, independent thinking, and SELF RELIANT individuals, because of YOU, it is an AMAZINGLY gratifying achievement. And if you’re really lucky, they will grow up to breed their own ‘hobgoblin of little minds’ someday and make you proud. Especially so when you wave off a ‘chance to change the diapers’ and happily quote old Waldo’s edict – “Self Reliance children … SELF reliance!”

No comments:

Post a Comment