A Strong Legacy

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a man of radical ideas and personal grace, devoted his long life to a search for the highest spiritual, ethical and natural truths, and struggled to apply his ideas and insights to the cultural, social and political issues of his fast-growing young country.

Emerson’s ideas, expressed in original metaphors and exquisite phrases, laden with references to classical and modern philosophy and thought, sometimes baffled but often uplifted his audience. Most radically, Emerson proposed that one could live best by trusting and acting in accord with one’s own “intuition”.  He inspired his listeners to think freshly about the paradoxes and problems of life and society, as well as the pressing issues of their own day. His was an American voice: inclusive, outspoken, curious, democratic, tolerant, optimistic, original, and pragmatic.

Today, his work remains timely and instructive. He challenges us to be true to ourselves; to heed our highest instincts; to act rightly; to strive for broad understanding through study, observation, action and reflection; to persist through adversity; to face the world with courage, civility, humor and humility; to learn from the natural world; to seek to be one with the universe.

More than two hundred years after Emerson’s birth, his best words still ring with authenticity; they remind us of the hopes of our Founding Fathers for a robust nation of diverse individuals, pursuing life, liberty, equality and happiness; they still speak to the issues and dilemmas of our personal lives and our troubled times; they still stir us to seek out what is true and beautiful in the world.

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.