I dont really understand this question... help?!?
6 Answers | Add Yours
I think the basic point of the question is that if you rebel you have to be self-reliant, or in order to be self-reliant you have to rebel. Self-reliance means pushing away from those who do things for you, after all. For example, a child that says “I can do it!” is rebelling in order to be self-reliant.
I agree with litteacher8 about this and offer an example to help you see the point. Imagine that you say to your parents, "I can take care of myself now. I don't need you for anything, and I'm running away from home." Then you do run away. However, things don't work out so well for you, which would not be a big surprise. At that point, the "risks of rebellion" come. You might be jobless, homeless, and hungry, and the people whom you have rebelled against, your parents, might say they really don't want you back. You are on your own.
On another level, those who want to be self-reliant and get "off the grid" of society are making a similar choice. It is possible to grow your own food, generate your own electricity, dig your own well, for example, but when you go too far with this sort of thing, it can be a difficult and unrewarding life.
I think we should all be self-reliant to some degree, but as Dunne said, "No man is an island." It is really a question of balance. For most of us, it is impossible in today's world, at least in the United States, for anyone to be completely self-reliant.
A good literary illustration of this quote would be the novel Lord of the Flies. The boys long to be free of adults and be independent, but their rebellion and descent into savagery ultimately becomes more costly than any of the boys planned, resulting in the deaths of their friends and eventual anarchy and chaos.
Emerson's self-reliance is not exactly the same as Roosevelt's rugged individualism, though the two are probably related. For Roosevelt, the idea relates to profession, entreprenuership, and the general economic character of Americans.
Emerson's essay on self-reliance is focused more on art and ideas. We have to be able to trust that the voice speaking inside of us has possession of a truth, which is unique and valid. The uniqueness of our personal truth makes it easy to doubt, he says, but we should deny that doubt because what one day becomes a universal truth begins as a personal truth, stated in personal terms by an individual.
This is how genius works, he says, drawing the universal from the personal, creating original knowledge.
Every individual possesses a unique genius, Emerson argues, that can only be revealed when that individual has the courage to trust his or her own thoughts, attitudes, and inclinations against all public disapproval. (Self-Reliance)
The most important rebellion required then is a rebellion against self-doubt.
If one rebels against the norm in order to rely on self rather than society, it is worth it if one is committed to achieving self-reliance. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay called "Self-Reliance," and his words are stirring in that he challenges the reader to be a non-conformist: don't agree with others because you care about what others think, but believe in yourself and let you be the judge of you...for who else knows you better (hopefully) than you do yourself. If one is truly desirous of being independent, rebelling against the norm is not only worthwhile; I would think it is absolutely necessary. For if we fail to do this, it seems we live a lie, and what a waste of a life. There are laws to be followed, and rules of kindness toward others (whose lives are no less important than our own), so we must be responsibly self-reliant. Emerson notes that we cannot doubt ourselves, and sticking to our intent...our purpose...will reward each of us with a sense of self-knowledge and self-worth. Emerson notes that everyone must one day come to the point when...
...he must take himself for better, for worse...
He states that trusting oneself is more important than anything. Of course, when we go searching, we may find things about ourselves that we do not like, if we are honest. But we can also change those things. It is risky seeing oneself clearly, but it is also enormously rewarding to be in control of our own choices, even owning up to our mistakes. This provides a sense of freedom, and the rebellion—and the facing our best and our worst—is worth it.
At the proverbial end of the day, what has a person but his or her integrity and individuality? Yes, yes, yes, rebellion against wrong, against harrassment, against immorality, against situational ethics, against political corruption, and the like is always worth the price. Oh, it is a high price, indeed. But, there is only one life given to a person and one must live his/her life with honor, or else the life is nothing, nothing. Think about this: How many leaders nowadays do people really respect?
Countries are now in the servile positions of answering to BIG governments because people unthinkingly have allowed others to rule for them and take away their personal freedoms as they buy into the "conventional wisdom." (Remember the passage in which Emerson states that society is in conspiracy against the individuality of everyone?)
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.
Perhaps, individuals what want a "nanny' government or who acquiesce to wrongs out of fear may need to return to the writings and speeches of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson,Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and the like.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes