“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion”Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is more power within this single statement than in a hundred modern books. Simplicity is brilliance. Complication is ignorance. Meanwhile, we claim success, and brilliance in our overcomplication of simple things.
Envy is ignorance because to be envious is to destroy every ounce of unique creativity that resides inside of as individuals. Envy is violent, not productive, and moreover, it is consuming, consuming in thought, consuming in action, and consuming in spirit. We ought hope to create the conditions, inventions, and creations for another foolish person to be envious of us; Not to be that weak spirited fool ourselves.
Imitation is suicide, and we could say the same about envy. Our secret hidden power lies in our idiosyncrasies. Imitating the nature or actions of another assassinates our distinctive characteristics. The same features that differentiate us from everything and everyone else, thus making us unique. There is nothing special about being a copy of something else. Therefore imitation is suicide. It destroys the single ingredient that makes us powerful, what makes you, you.
We must take ourselves for better, or for worse. We have all hated ourselves at one point or another in our lives; some still do. Emerson asked us to stop doing that. How can you hate that which is your most concentrated power? You should not. It is when we try to imitate others or fit into a group that we feel pain inside. You don’t have to feel any pain, if you conform. It could be the reason we don’t fit into that group is that we are not willing to imitate them. The pains we feel are growing pains, and this is the price that we must pay for being ourselves. The fee we must pay to unlock our true power.
Remember, that imitation is suicide. So by joining a group are you killing yourself? I believe that Emerson would have answered an emphatic yes to this question. Any group that requires your conformity, to the extent that you must replace your identity with theirs (which is largely the intent of all groups and societies) is trying to take your power away from you.
The essence of our power and the concentration of said power is found only when we are allowed to fully explore and develop who and what we are as individuals. And this power is muted, or even silenced by our conformity.
“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
What makes a great person great? It is because they are new, and their ideas are new. We may look at some figures in the past or modern times and say, they are great, but why? Why are they great? Its because they are new, and because they have conviction in their view of the world at that moment. It is because they believe in themselves. No person has ever seen the world the way that you do. Next, is to believe in what you see. Believe that your view is true. What a great person does not do, is allow themselves to be bound by what was, mind you a trend or a society represents what was, not what will be. A great person knows that what was, is in the past and well known. What is possible is in the future, and it is entirely and wholly unknown.
A great person knows the functional insignificance of the past. While also acknowledging, and yet not knowing what is possible moving forward. This person is fully aware that no possibility lies in history, yet infinite and unimaginable possibilities lie in our future. But only for those who can be self-reliant in their thoughts, motivations, and actions. But how? By a creed of non conformity, and an unwillingness to have any position or belief set in concrete.
“God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
If we want to have an impact on this world, then we must be fearless. A tiger walks alone because they are fearless. Why do wildebeest move in herds? Because they are not without fear. They rely on conformity for their protection. Meanwhile, a tiger will fight to the death to protect its self-reliance. Compliance is never an option for the tiger, and thus we exalt them.
“A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are searching for peace in our conformity, and we will never find it. There is no peace in conformity. Compliance is a trade, a transaction. We trade our superpower, our individuality, and creativity; and in return, we are accepted into a herd. A herd that whips us into carbon copies. And we say our farewell to the only power that could have made us great. In our surrender, genius deserts us, inventiveness flaps it’s wings and flies away, and we wade in a pool of hopelessness for the rest of our days on this earth.
“Who can thus avoid all pledges, and having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everything we do is learned. Why do we learn ourselves into such educated ignorance? The more we know, the less we know. These words are not some silly riddle to confuse the mind. It is a simple, yet powerfully packaged portion of wisdom. If we can avoid our pledges to organizations, groups, and societies, as well as ideas, then we will always be a formidable force to the ignorant and well-trained obedient masses. The pledge is again a transaction, one where you trade your free thought, for pledge thought, groupthink. Our thoughts will become the thoughts of our other like-minded pledgees. Again, surrendering the only power that could have helped us to rise above anything more significant than a supervisor.
I say supervisor and not architect because an architect must be able to see what lies outside of the structure they are creating. A supervisor never has to set foot from underneath its roof. The supervisors training is conducted inside of the structure. Thus their ability to think outside the structure is limited, if they can comprehend the complex associations that exist outside in the greater world at all.
“These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. 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 request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our power is not lost; it is here within us. There is greatness inside of every single one of us, but we must be willing to endure the pain to sufficiently call it up.
“Do your work, and I shall know you….. “under all of these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man that you are.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Aaron L. Carroll