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Examining Transcendentalism through Contemporary Culture

ExaminingTranscendentalism through Contemporary Culture

“Allmen recognize the right of revolution that is, the right to refuseallegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or itsinefficiency are great and unendurable.”

HenryDavid Thoreau, Nonconformity, page 967

Thepeople have the rights to observe and then complain if they see thattheir government is not doing their job to their people well.Citizens should only stand against their government if they haverational basis behind the actions that they will do to spark arevolution. Tyranny and efficiencies refer to government suppression,unfair regulations, implementation of laws and acts that put thewelfare of their people at risk, corruption and other governmentactivities that will have negative effect to its people. People mustfind ways to stop these things even if this will mean to resist thegovernment. Government should always protect our rights and shouldnot go against them.

Theband Urbandub with their song ACall to Arms hasthe lyrics “If you show them you’re weak then you’re acceptingdefeat. Pick up the pieces and dust yourself off then battle away.This is your call to arms.” These lyrics are in theme withThoreau’s quote about nonconformity to the government. The lyricsof the song talk about how one should know when to fight wheneverhe/she is pushed to their limits. We should know when to resistwhenever we feel threatened or our safety are put to the risk. Theterm “call to arms” refers to us gearing up to fight for what webelieve in or prepare ourselves to go against or stop something orsomeone that bring danger to our welfare and well being.

“Trustthyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the placethe divine providence has found for you, the society of yourcontemporaries, the connection of events.”

RalphWaldo Emerson, Self-Reliance, page 270

Youcan achieve contentment if you will trust yourself and follow yourheart. You should not always base your actions and your way ofthinking to what others tell you or what the society expects you todo. The views and opinions of others regarding yourself should notaffect you to find and discover on how you think about yourself.Sometimes there is no one to help you but yourself. Always trust yourinstincts because they are created as a key factor to every livingthing’s survival. The best person to trust is no one exceptyourself. You know that you will not betray yourself in achievingyour goals and dreams.

Thisillustration from elenathinks.blogspot.com greatly shows theself-reliance of this fish in the bowl. The society thinks that thefish can only swim in the water and will be unable to do anythingexcept to die when brought out of the water. The fish did not followdid not agree with what the society thinks that the fish shouldalways be put in the water and it believed in itself that it can doimpossible things like going out of the water and even feed itself bygetting the fish food all by itself. You can see the determination inthe eyes of the fish that it can do anything even without the help ofothers. This illustration follows Emerson’s views aboutself-reliance that is quoted above.

“Ilearned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advancesconfidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live thelife which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected incommon hours.”

HenryDavid Thoreau, Confidence, page 1149

Ineverything that you do especially when you are achieving your dreams,they should always be done with confidence. Confidence will give youan extra boost to keep on going and you will be surprised on how fastyou can achieve your goals and dreams just by being confident tothink that you will make it despite the hindrances that might come inyour way. If you will not believe in yourself that you can reach yourgoals, no one else will. You must always think that you are goodenough and worthy to accomplish things and before you know it, youalready accomplished them. Having more confidence can also increaseour self-esteem, improve our skills and abilities and people evenmight get attracted to us.

Thisphoto from the Google images definitely illustrates the quote aboutconfidence above. If you take each step to the directions of yourhopes, dreams and goals with confidence, you will then achieve themor make them come true. The “Yes I Can” in every calibration onthe meter is your belief in yourself and your confidence to get yourgoal. After every process will take you one step closer to yourdreams and then as you continue to do things with high self esteem,the “Yes I Did It!” is comparable to your dreams that you alreadyachieved because of your perseverance and confidence.

“Whosowould be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortalpalms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must exploreif it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity ofyour own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have thesuffrage of the world.”

RalphWaldo Emerson, Individualism, pages 271

Thisquote talks about on how you should always believe in yourself. Youare unique and should not go to what the society thinks you should doand say. You might lose your identity if you will continue to blendinto your peer. Always value your distinction to others because it iswhat separates you from them. You should always know that yourindividuality will give you the best judgement to things especiallyregarding yourself because decisions like those should not beaffected by the factors in your environment because the primaryperson who will be affected is you. You know what is best for you sodo not let others persuade you.

Pink’ssong Perfectis the same theme with the quote about individualism with the lyrics“So cool in line and we try try try, but we try too hard and it’sa waste of my time. Done looking for the critics because they areeverywhere, they don’t like my jeans and they don’t get my hair.”Pink did not conform to what the critics say to her. She fixes herhair and jeans like that because for her it is her distinction toother artists. Pink got her individuality from the color of her hairand that is how we easily recognize her. She is done here changingherself just for the critics to like her, because for herself she isalready perfect. She does not want her to be what others want her tobe because she will do the things on her own way.

“Iheartily accept the motto, &quotThat government is best whichgoverns least&quot and I should like to see it acted up to morerapidly and systematically. The government is best which governsleast.”

HenryDavid Thoreau, Government, page 964

Themotto that Thoreau accepts talks about that the best government forhim is when the government leaves their people so that they cangovern themselves individually. This scenario can only happen if allof the people which are under a governing body are willing to obeyand follow the rules set forth by their government. They will followtheir laws and policies without the need to force them to do it. Thiscan also be done if the government’s rules promote the welfare oftheir people so that their citizens will not have a hard timefollowing it.

Thecartoon here from www.govint.org depicts how good governance from thegovernment should be done. People will not be against theirgovernment if their government promotes transparency, engagement,sustainability etc. The country will improve more rapidly if it willnot practice social exclusion, inefficiency, red tape and most ofall, corruption. Proper and good governance is synonymous to theencouragement of the welfare and the well being of its people. People will happily follow the rules of the government is they cansee that these laws do not suppress them in any manner. When peopleobserve good governance to the government, the government will not beneeding to “govern” more their people since the people trust themand the government trust the people as well.

“Menhave looked away from themselves and at things so long that they havecome to esteem the religious, learned and civil institutions asguards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, becausethey feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteemof each other by what each has, and not by what each is.”

RalphWaldo Emerson, Materialism, page 285

Materialism’sevidence on the quote above refers to the properties protected by thegovernment or protected by people. We do not want our properties tobe taken away from us or even be destroyed because sometimes we tendto be materialistic and we tend to value the importance of tangibleobjects. We also tend to idolize or put into the social pedestalthose people who have more material things than us because we treatthe amounts of object as a sign of social status of a person. Weoften forget the inner values of people because we often see theirmaterial possessions. We now live in a material world and we shouldknow that the best things in life are not material things, and thatthey are free.

JessieJ has a song that talks about the same thing as the quote above. ThePricetaglyrics go “It’s not about the money money money, we don’t needyour money money money, we just want to make the world dance, forgetabout the price tag.”Price tag and money talks about thematerial values people usually tag to people and things for them tobe attractive for us. If you would really think about it, we do notreally need money and many material things to be happy and contented.You just have to uphold your morals and beliefs because they willmean more than the amount of money in your bank than the money inyour pocket.

“Iwent to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to frontonly the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn whatit had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had notlived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dearnor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quitenecessary.”

HenryDavid Thoreau, Nature, page 1028

Thisquote talks about the importance of nature. Sometimes we need alonetime for ourselves and we also need peace of mind when we are hauntedby problems and confusions. Being in nature will help us find andevaluate the best solutions to the different problems that we arefacing. The nature is one of the best places in where you cancontemplate and reflect on how well are you spending your life. Alonetime with yourself and nature will help you relax and can give youinner peace to yourself and might give you realizations that arenecessary for you to be a better person.

Thisphoto from favin.com shows the contemplation and reflection of thisgirl. We do not know what she is thinking here but it is clear thatshe is searching for something. And her alone time in the naturemight help her to come up with something. The life with nature isalways the simplest since you are far from the urban distractionsthat confuse and affect your judgement in certain things and by beingin nature, it will help you think clearer and come up with betterdecisions in your life.

“Isaw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted asgood neighbors and friends that their friendship was for summerweather only.”

HenryDavid Thoreau, Friendship, page 976

Itis how great Henry David Thoreau sees friendship. For him friendshipis a bond between two or more people who shall converse and notbetween two people who will converse. Friendship should beuncondonditional. Whatever the weather is, spring, summer, winter orfall, you should be always ready to be a friend to someone. Realfriendship is when you are willing to do things only to protect yourfriends. Whatever the odds maybe, you should always be there for yourfriends. You should not be a friend to someone because you need himor her or because you benefit from him or her being youracquaintance. When you are always there for your friends, they willreturn the favour by being always there for you in times when youneed them.

FairyTailis a Japanese Comic series (manga) written by Hiro Mashima that talksabout a guild of magicians who gives importance to friendship. Anyonecan join their guild as long they are one with the guild’s idealsand goals. The guild members here strengthen their bonds offriendship with one another by upholding the guild’s laws andvirtues and by protecting one another. Each day their friendshipsgrow when they are faced with challenges that they conquer throughthe help of each other. This is a great illustration of Emerson’sview on true friendship which is quoted above.

“Ilike the silent church before the service begins, better than anypreaching.”

RalphWaldo Emerson, Free Thought, page 279

Yourreligious thoughts should not be confined by specific dogmas andauthorities. There are many religions that are pushing you to believein different gods and supreme beings but your thoughts should not betainted that you should only believe in a particular supreme being.You have the freedom to choose what religion you should believe andpractice and must not discriminate the other religious beliefs ofother people. The quote also tells us that all of the religions arethe same or they all have a common goal which is to worship a supremebeing for protection against evil entities. Their difference will beknown when they start preaching about different attitudes andpractices that you should follow. All religions are equal and all ofthem should be treated with respect.

Thephoto here from www.sayhellototheworld.com is a great depiction of the quote above since it shows the equalityof every religion. You have vast choices of religion to choose withand confining yourself with one might impede your understandings toother religious beliefs. Some might have contradicting belief withsome but they all teach you how to worship a supreme being and askfor that supreme being’s guidance and protection. People should notforce others to believe in the religion that they believe in theyshould and and this will result to harmony in living with oneanother.

“Iwent to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to frontonly the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn whatit had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had notlived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dearnor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quitenecessary.”

HenryDavid Thoreau, Simplicity, page 1028

Thoughthis quote has already been shown to depict the importance of nature,this quote also shows the value of simplicity. We often tend to makeour lives very complicated that we usually forget the true meaning ofliving and appreciating life as it is. Thoreau here wanted to show usthe simplest and most basic elements of life which is to live lifewithout regrets and by not wasting time doing unnecessary things. Thesimplest life is the one that you spent on doings things that havepurpose and meaning and the life spent where you continuouslyimproving yourself to be a better person. By then you can finally saythat you have a simple life but it is very well spent.

Thisbook by David Shi is similar to what Thoreau wanted for people tohave. Shi, like Thoreau wanted to promote simple living because theyboth believed that less is more. Through living the simple life, youward off luxury and riches and then exchange them to a more peacefulmind and life full of purpose and meaning.


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Emerson,Ralph W, and Stanley Appelbaum. Self-reliance,and Other Essays.New York: Dover Publications, 1993. Internet resource.

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