Societal Conditioning By Emerson Essay, Research Paper
Societal ConditioningAccording to “Self-Reliance,” an essay by Ralph WaldoEmerson, “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhoodof every one of its members,” and “…you will always find thosewho think they know what is your duty better than you know it.” Emerson obviously understood the workings of human societyquite well. He says that society works to destroy the “manhood”of its members. This “manhood” could be a number of things, butany interpretation, directly or indirectly, points to the wantondestruction of free-will. Free-will requires a free-thinking andopen mind. This is exactly what society discourages in itsyounger members. Students in so-called “schools of learning” areherded around like cattle, and constantly force-fed idealisticversions of the truth. Many of these “lessons for life” arenothing more than lies. According to those with the money andpower, this sort of teaching is necessary for the overall well-being of each individual, and society as a whole. These are theones who feel they “know what is your duty better than you knowit yourself.” Much like trickle-down economics, this thinking ispassed on to each social caste and generation through every facetof American life until it is generally regarded as “the waythings have always been.” Many people often come to realize their life is being moldedby others, and feel they have little control over it. This type ofthinking is first regarded as preposterous paranoia, but sooner or later
these people realize such radical and “subversive” thoughts are true. Those who fail to look beyond the surface instantly point fingersat anyone different. The ills of society are constantly being blamedon “niggers”, “Jews”, “tree-huggers”, or “aliens”. Not only is suchthinking absurd, but this is exactly how “they” or “the Man” want us tothink, whoever this elusive entity may be. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,”says Emerson. By this he means to break away from traditionalthought. Do not accept everything at face value. Think foryourself instead of instantly accepting everything you are told.Avoid the “It’s true, I saw it on The X-Files!” syndrome. Emerson also states “Nothing is at last sacred but theintegrity of your own mind.” Emerson suggests to questioneverything that is presented to you. If something seems doubt-ful, refute it. Do not accept something merely because you arepressured into doing so. A fine example is organized religion.Religious beliefs should not be subscribed to because it is thenorm. Remember, nothing is more sacred than the integrity ofyour own mind. Do not be afraid to stray from traditionalthought. The rewards may not be instantaneous, but for the sakeof your own mind, it is essential. — Emerson advocates free-thinking, and by this he seeks tobetter the minds of his fellow citizens. Some individuals maynot have the mental capacity to do so, but a questioning andfree-thinking mind is of much more value than conforming withsociety for the sake of personal peace.