It’s wonderful, readable, short (88 pages), very contemporary and, of course, quotable.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
Relevant, no? And relevant, I think, to the theme of this blog, which is how all of us can harness the power of business to solve the world’s most important problems.
Since reading the book again, I’ve done just a bit of (Internet) reading about Emerson. His idea of self reliance, as best as I can tell, is not an argument that every man must always fend for himself. This is from a Unitarian Univeralist website on Emerson, who as a young man was a Unitarian minister:
He said in an 1854 address on anti-slavery, “Self-reliance, the height and perfection of man, is self-reliance on God.” He preached the God within, not the God of authority and tradition. He many times indicated that we know God first and mainly through the moral law within
I’m calling your attention to the book because I am very loosely affiliated with a publishing venture called The Domino Project which is exploring new models in book publishing. It has re-issued Self Reliance with a bit of contemporary commentary.
Some good news: Today (Wednesday, May 25) and tomorrow, the Kindle version of the book (which can can read on a PC, smartphone, iPad, etc.) is free, albeit with a caveat. It is sponsored by a progressive outerwear company called Ibex, so it comes with a couple of ads–one at the beginning, one at the end, less obtrusive in my view than the underwriting announcements we’ve all become used to on PBS and NPR.
You can download the book here. Give it a few quiet minutes–you won’t regret it.