Anyone who loves English literature will have heard the name Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is known as one, if not the first, cornerstone of the transcendentalist movement.
Ralph’s thoughts, words and opinions have left many footprints which touched and most probably changed numerous individuals over the years. Ralph’s words live on and are shared among 10’s of thousands of inspirational books and millions of social media accounts around the world today.
Read on to find out Why Ralph Waldo Emerson Was So Damn Cool.
1. Ralph Was A Free Thinker
Nothing is cooler than making individual decisions. This is exactly what Emerson did, especially in a time when individual ideals where condemned. He gave rise to the idea that everything is connected to the divinity of God, therefore everything is divine. Of course he was ridiculed because this theory moved away from God as a singular being, but it also encouraged people to embrace nature and its connection with the soul. Emerson firmly believed that finding oneself results in finding God.
From this people can learn that being unique is not a curse, but rather a blessing. Many of Emerson’s quotes praise those who stand out from the crowd.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Ralph Was A Rebel-Artist
As with all great artists, rules are meant to be broken. Every time an artistic revolution was started some rebellious artist was behind it. In this case it was a poetic revolution. Emerson, along with his fellow poets didn’t agree with the way poetry was written or read. To them it was an emotional experience between the writer, reader and nature. The reason so many people find poetry so boring is due to the mechanical way it is has to be studied. Emerson didn’t conform to the rules of the European influence and rebelled within his own style.
This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should start an angry mob, but it does suggest the questioning of authority and rules can be good sometimes. If something smells funny, don’t eat it.
3. He Was A Freedom Fighter
Okay, so Emerson wasn’t much of a fighter. He didn’t go in guns blazing, but he did however use a different type of weapon. Words in the interest of human rights, in his case slavery, were an intimidating task. Initially he didn’t speak so freely and he admitted to having a great respect to those who did. Yet, he overcame his fear later on and began to become much more active with his speeches and essays about abolishing slavery. The point is he didn’t have to. He wasn’t regarded as a slave, but he still became part of the battle.
If there is one thing Emerson can teach the world it is to act fairly and with consideration toward all mankind. The only difference that should be seen from a person with another ethnicity is what can be learnt.
4. He Was A Visionary of the Future
In addition to opposing slavery, he also encouraged women’s rights. Many of his speeches were filled with such ideals for the future that conservative people would shout at him from the audience. This didn’t deter him and he continued to share his visions and thoughts through continual speeches, essay’s and poetry. Only later on did his genius receive much deserved credit.
Fear of what others may think can end up ruining a perfectly good life. Emerson might not always have liked the response he got from the crowd, but he did enjoy the controversy a little. He made waves by openly expressing his opinions, not by conforming.
5. Ralph Was A Symbol of Hope
Just as much as the peace sign gave hope to the hippies in the 70’s, Emerson represented this to his friends and those who read his work. He has had his share of loss and depression. Losing three siblings and his father at a very young age, only to bury his first wife two years after getting married and his son later on cannot be easy. Few people can relate to this amount of pain, but he remained strong and hopeful.
He could have easily given up on his work and ended up as just another drunken poet. This is a great lesson of facing the dark without letting it overthrow what is left. Life is an experiment as Ralph Waldo Emerson liked to put it, so always keep experimenting.
6. Ralph Was A Great Mentor
The notorious collection of poetry by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, was sent to Emerson for a personal opinion before getting published. Whitman, although not a close friend, had a high regard of Emerson’s thoughts. In turn Emerson replied with a five page letter expressing how he enjoyed Whitman’s work and this would ultimately boost initial interest. He even encouraged Whitman to write a second edition which also gained a lot of popularity.
Emerson presents a person who gives credit where credit is due. Instead of seeing competition he saw companionship. Instead of breaking down, he aimed to build.
7. He Was An Inspiration
Last but not least, Ralph Waldo Emerson is an inspiration. His work has sparked some of the greatest free-thinkers this world has ever seen. He might not have been born great, but he sure ended that way.