Society's Child

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Society’s “Child”
Individualism has been a popular topic of discussion for writers, thinkers and almost everybody for centuries. One famous nineteenth century writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, addresses some aspects of individualism that were true then and are still true to this very day. From Emerson’s point of view, a person must have self-reliance and not let other people make his/her decision for him/her. To become this Emersonian self-reliance individual, one should take into consideration Emerson’s “child” figure, as s/he should learn from that “child”, be more like that “child” in certain aspects: to be real to one’s self, expressing one’s self without fearing the opinions of other people, to be what we believe we can be, not what other people expect us to be.

Self-reliance is to believe in ourselves and not letting outside influences affect us negatively. Emerson points out that children actually have better self-reliance than most adults. As children are not yet judged by the laws, society or any other common standard that we, as adults, all concern about. A child have no fear speaking his/her own mind, if he/she is not punished by his parents for doing so. And even if he/she was punished, he/she would still be likely to speak his/her mind, in the absent of his parents. Emerson used the example of a child who spoke no word in the presence of adults, but “in the next room”, he spoke “so clear and emphatic” (PAGE 261). The child, in Emerson example, can be understand two different ways:

The first way to see Emerson’s child is to see him as the perfect example of human nature, the child speaks no words when there was adults around, yet he speaks his mind when he is “in the next room”, just like we all hold back our thoughts which we think would upset those who surround us, fearing that if we express ourselves, we will isolate ourselves in the attempt. As Emerson points out: “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across...
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