This essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson explores the concept of self-resilience and describes the tenets of this human quality. The author builds his argument around the statement that “every great man is unique” (Reidhead et al. 251). Uniqueness is associated with non-conformism and belief in soybeans, even if they contradict common wisdom. Thus, the self-resilient person constantly doubts the well-known facts and trusts one’s own beliefs, which are based on individual perception of the world.
Emerson argues that adults are imprisoned in their consciousness, which is shaped by public opinion, not their own perceptions. Emerson emphasizes that a truly self-resilient person retains their individual voice even when in the middle of a crowd. The author claims that it is necessary “not be hindered by the name of goodness, but… explore if it be goodness” (Reidhead et al. 238). Thus, Emerson emphasizes that conformity is the enemy of self-resilience, and one must question universal wisdom.
Another important aspect of building a self-resilient personality is the ability not to be afraid of inconsistency. In particular, Emerson argues that a person should not be afraid to contradict himself, as the opinion may change from day to day. Such a change in statements implies the possibility of being misunderstood by others, but “with consistency a great soul has nothing to do” (Reidhead et al. 241). Thus, Emerson notes that self-resilience requires a person to be flexible even in their beliefs and not succumb to established facts.
The author also emphasizes that one needs to trust solely one’s perception and intuition and not rely on common wisdom. Living in the present and evaluating current events, as well as transforming one’s notions and concepts of the world in accordance with them is the key. Emerson states that “when we have new perception, we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded treasure as old rubbish” (Reidhead et al. 245). The self-resilient person is not afraid to modify the universal knowledge of the past if it does not correspond to modern conditions.
Emerson emphasizes that self-resilience is based on trust in one’s beliefs and not being afraid to defend them in front of society or to be misunderstood at the moment. When a person doubts the general truth and asserts one’s own opinion, self-resilience is developed. A person cannot become great by following already known paths; a unique perception and ideas are needed that could create a personality different from others.
Reidhead, Julia, et al. (eds.). The Norton Anthology of American Literature (9th ed). W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.