Transcendentalism: The Antidote to Brainwashed Youth Essay

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When I was first exposed to the concept of Transcendentalism in my English class, the idea seemed farfetched and rather abstract. Upon further readings and research, I discovered that the concepts, although they originally seemed esoteric, where works of true brilliance. Society has made it hard for individuals to exist when things like popular culture seemingly brainwash youth into doing whatever is considered “cool”. Transcendentalism is a powerful concept which should be acknowledged by my generation, for the points encompassed in Transcendentalism are more vital today than ever. Transcendentalism is the philosophy of striving to live a life of independence, simplicity, and oneness with nature.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was the
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Truth, if it agreed with an individual's instinct of truth, must be indeed truth.

Another leading Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, takes this idea of doing what is right to one’s conscience to a new level in his essay “Civil Disobedience”. In the piece, Thoreau asserts that the “true place for a just man [in an unjust society] is in jail”. He also puts into writing what would be practiced over 200 years later by exposing the public to the suggestion of civil disobedience through nonviolent protests. In the past 50 years, examples of this have appeared on several occasions: civil right’s movement, women’s rights movement, Vietnam protests, and even usage by the great Mohandas Gandhi in the Indian independence movement. All of these movements met success.

Thoreau also wrote “Walden”, a collection of entries from a span of two years in which he lived in a cabin next to Walden Pond in Massachusetts. In this masterfully collaborated piece, Thoreau seeks to explain two, among many other, particularly core Transcendentalist values: nature and simplicity. Although Genesis 1:26 tells us that man was to “rule over” the animals that we live among, Transcendentalism seeks to live alongside what were given to us to be our “subjects”. There is also the alternate definition of nature, which relates to an inherent sense of righteousness or wrongness. This relates back to one’s conscience being of more
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