The Importance of Self Reliance (Essay Example)


As society has continued to develop and advance in many different fields, new social problems continue to arise. The text, “Self-Reliance”, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, discusses the importance of self reliance and how self reliance affects both the individual and society. As Emerson discusses the importance of self reliance and how it affects society, Emerson criticizes society for conformity and its members as they follow these social norms and trends. In the context of “Self-Reliance”, society most definitely affects a person’s value and certainly not in a positive way.

The text, “Self-Reliance”, states that society conforms its members which disrupts the thinking, confidence, and self reliance a person has. For example, Emerson states, “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company in which the members agree for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater, the virtue in most requests is conformity.” Emerson is basically saying that members of society follow crowds or conform, and people no longer think for themselves because they want a feel of security. Society conforms its members due to the fact that many people have low self-esteem which causes them to agree and support the opinions of bigger groups. Their fear of failure also causes them to follow others, instead of thinking for themselves. This cycle continues as the newer generations conform towards the older generations. Based on the evidence presented, disruption of individual thinking, confidence, and self reliance are caused by the conformity presented by society. 

While some might argue that societal conformity encourages cooperation between peers, this cooperation could lead to the discouragement of self-thinking and self-reliance just like what is stated in Emerson’s text, “Self-Reliance.” Another common argument is that societal conformity creates good social groups that could improve a person’s moral, self-confidence, judgement, and overall safety; however, the opposite could happen and the effects could be reversed which could cause someone to make horrible and dangerous decisions. The same thing could be said for the effects conformity has on someone’s creativity. Conformity can challenge one’s creativity, but at the same time, limits it. 

In the context of “Self-Reliance”, Society affects people’s value in a negative way as societal conformity is the result of human insecurity. It is a never ending cycle that will continue to discourage individual thinking, self-reliance, confidence, creativity, and overall diversity between the billions of people currently alive. In order for people to stop conforming in society, people would need to regain the trust of society and their own trust in themselves

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