Ralph Waldo Emerson

I just read a great article over at Raptitude.com about Ralph Waldo Emerson and I am intrigued. I will certainly be reading more from him and at Raptitude.

But It was this Emerson quote and David’s critique that really caught my eye.

“Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. — `Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Remembering this quote has protected me from so many instances of shame and self-doubt for things I’ve said and stances I’ve taken. One truth I keep encountering again and again is that one cannot stay the same person throughout life. As we experience more and more, our perspectives change and consequently so do our beliefs. Change is the unchangable state of the universe, so how could one’s beliefs stay the same throughout life?

Yet society seems to value a certain consistency of belief. We are expected not just to share our opinions, but to be them, to swear to them as a lifelong conviction. People proudly declare, “I am a conservative. I am a Christian. I am a Democrat.” If you equate your beliefs with yourself in this way, there is no room to ever genuinely reconsider, not without an insurmountable bias towards the beliefs you’ve already embodied. You’ll always feel a compulsion to protect those beliefs, as viscerally as if it’s your internal organs that are threatened, because you consider them to be just as much a part of you.

When someone is that afraid of being contradicted, they are no longer concerned with the truth, only with protecting their priceless investment in what they have said. To honor a statement you made yesterday as a binding declaration of who you are is a tragic, yet extremely common mistake. This is the fundamental error that plagues humanity: to mistake one’s ego for oneself. Enforcing an impossible, lifelong consistency in what you say and believe can only lead to dishonesty and despair.

Someone whose opinions change freely with experience is clearly someone who is not guided by dogma or the expectations of others, but instead by a clear internal compass of inquiry and honesty. To such a “pure and wise spirit,” it is far more important to seek the truth than to be regarded as having had it all along. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” said Emerson.

Whenever I feel a pang of regret for something I’ve said, I remember that all I did was speak what I thought at the time in hard words, even if today I speak different ones. It’s only human.

Via-Raptitude.com

If more people, god fearing and atheist, acted like this we’d be doin’ pretty good.

Thoughts?

Published by

Paul J. McMaster

The best church ever

3 thoughts on “Ralph Waldo Emerson”

  1. I’m all for people speaking their minds, as long as they actually speak their MINDS. All to often you will find people who speak directly from a book, from a preacher, from a song, or from a god. If more people just spoke their minds and tried to find their own truth, knowing fully well that their truth is not the same as everyone else, then this world would be a much better place.

  2. Bien-aimés citoyen de l’Union européenne
    La parole est ŕ votre conscience et la volonté de me soutenir dans un effort visant ŕ détruire le terrorisme une fois pour toutes nos familles, sans peur et insécurité. Pour que nos enfants vivent dans la paix et ętre comme ces gens ŕ commettre des attentats-suicides dans les avions et les métros detonând notre haine pour ętre guéri. Ce n*est pas effectuée par l*envoi de soldats armés et des bombes qui ne parviennent pas ŕ se propager et plus de haine, mais par l*amour. Qu*est-ce que vous avez besoin d*un homme politique pour vous représenter au Parlement pour permettre ŕ l*organisme et les organes qui seront remis mon sang pour sauver la vie de l*intégrisme islamique représentants ou des membres de leurs familles souffrent, alors le concept de djihad ŕ ętre anéanti.
    Rien aéroports sécurisé lorsqu*il est injecté par le virus viendra plus sophistiqués, plus meurtričre, nos stades. Sacrifice d*un homme est infiniment moins cher que la vie des soldats et un gaspillage de ressources pendant des années sans résultats.
    Si les greffes sera faite en direct ŕ la télévision et la publicité sur Internet, puis tout le monde verra le don de soi pour les gens de bien et qu*ils comprennent nos valeurs! Penser rationnellement et de me donner votre signature, et je vais vaincre le terrorisme avec ses mains nues! Merci!
    Iulian Jugărean
    e-mail:iubiredeoameni@yahoo.com
    Blog:jugarean.wordpress.com

    Beloved fellow EU
    I call upon your conscience and willingness to support me in an effort to destroy terrorism once and for all our families without fear and insecurity. So that our children live in peace and be like those people to commit suicide bombs in our airplanes and metros detoned our hatred to be healed. This is done not by sending armed soldiers and bombs that fail to spread and more than hatred, but by love. What you need as a politician representing you in Parliament to allow the body and organs to be donated my blood to save the life of Islamic fundamentalism representatives or members of their families are suffering, so the concept of jihad to be annihilated. Nothing secure airports when injected with the virus will come more sophisticated, more deadly, our stadiums. Sacrifice of one man is infinitely cheaper than soldiers lives and wasted resources for years without results. If transplants will be made live on TV and advertised on the internet, then everyone will see self-giving for the good people and they understand our values! Think rationally and give me your signature, and I will defeat terrorism with his bare hands! Thank you!

    Iulian Jugărean
    e-mail:iubiredeoameni@yahoo.com
    Blog:jugarean.wordpress.com

    Beloved Landsmann EU
    Ich appelliere an Ihr Gewissen und die Bereitschaft zur Unsicherheit unterstützen mich in dem Bemühen der Terrorismus zu zerstören einmal und für alle unsere Familien und ohne Angst. So, dass unsere Kinder in Frieden leben und wie die Menschen begehen Selbstmord Metros in Flugzeuge und Bomben detonând unseren Hass, geheilt zu werden. Dies geschieht nicht, indem sie bewaffnete Soldaten und Bomben, zu verbreiten und zu mehr als Hass scheitern, aber durch die Liebe. Was man als Politiker im Parlament vertreten Sie sollten es erlauben, den Körper und Organe, mein Blut gespendet werden, um das Leben des islamischen Fundamentalismus Vertreter oder Mitglieder ihrer Familien zu retten, Leiden, so das Konzept des Jihad vernichtet werden. Nichts sichere Flughäfen, wenn Virus injiziert mit dem Willen zu kommen anspruchsvoller, mehr tödlich, unseren Stadien. Opfer des Menschen unendlich viel billiger als Soldaten lebt und Verschwendung von Ressourcen für die Jahre ohne Ergebnisse. Wenn Transplantate wird TV gemacht werden live auf und beworben über das Internet, dann wird jeder sehen Hingabe für den guten Menschen, und sie verstehen unsere Werte! Think rational und gib mir deine Unterschrift, aber ich werde den Terrorismus mit seinen bloßen Händen zu besiegen! Vielen Dank!

    Iulian Jugărean
    e-mail:iubiredeoameni@yahoo.com
    Blog:jugarean.wordpress.com

    http://www.videonews.ro/action/viewvideo/16761/Sinucigaul-s-a-razgandit-Turcescu-m-a-convins-eu-il-ateptam-pe-Mircea-Badea/

    Romanian language

    Presedinte Jerzy Buzek

    Numele meu este Stelian Iulian Jugarean, sunt cetatean european si doresc sa va aduc la Domnule
    cunostinta ca razboiul impotriva terorismului in care este implicata societatea noastra nu are sorti de izbanda, dimpotriva genereaza ura si cheltuieli enorme din partea cetatenilor.

    Cum va inchipuiti dumneavoastra ca trimitand soldati si arme, impunand forta si teama, omenirea ar putea scapa de aceasta boala groaznica numita terorism?! Prin asemenea masuri generati, transmiteti si perpetuati URA! Ori exact aceasta este hrana terorismului!

    Solutia pentru URA dintre oameni este una singura si anume IUBIREA!

    Trebuie sa legiferati ca un parinte sa isi poata oferi propriul sange si\sau organele trupului daca este nevoie, pentru salvarea propriului copil! Asa este normal si drept!

    Va rog sa ma credeti ca daca sangele meu, inima mea sau alt organ ar salva viata unui adept al terorismului, si ideologia daruirii de sine ar fi mediatizata, aceste organizatii se vor dizolva deoarece ideologia lor va fi anihilata! Nu este nevoie decat de un singur exemplu si eu sunt fericit sa ma ofer 100% pentru distrugerea acestui flagel al omenirii care consuma energie si resurse. Daca aceste eforturi ar fi folosite pentru oameni atunci nici un locuitor al planetei nu ar mai suferii de foame! Nu mai este vreme sa asteptam pana cand omenirea va avea un guvern mondial. Trebuie actionat rapid si cu toata forta iubirii.

    Aveti acum toate elementele necesare, nu trebuie decat sa actionati!

    Daca intelegeti toate acestea, omenirea va va tine in memorie ca Presedintele care a schimbat lumea in bine mai mult decat toti Papii la un loc!

    Eu voi astepta in strada zi si noapte decizia dumneavoastra! Multumesc!

    Cu dragoste

    I have the film and now i sleep to the European Parliament in Bruxelles
    Thank You

  3. Public education should have a class that teaches reasoning skills. Their are many people that work from believe, mythical, and what they think up and can’t decide from that and truths and facts.

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