What are Emerson's views on philanthropy?

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While Emerson believes in the efficacy of helping one’s fellow man, he loathes the societal pressure to give to good causes that are too distant, or serve only to build ego. Think of all those people who post their “thoughts and prayers” on social media after a disaster because they worry they’ll be insensitive if they don’t, but after a week, are no longer thoughtful, praying, or outraged, and have moved on to a more trendy cause. When one is not connected to those they are giving to, this is the likely result. Emerson sees a true man (a non-conformist) as one who is able to distinguish those causes that truly affect him, are close to him, and are likely to make a real impact in the world he actually lives in. He uses the abolition of slavery (a prime cause in his day) as an example of one such event that might attract those individuals who give only to jump on the bandwagon:

If malice and vanity wear the coat of philanthropy, shall that pass? If an angry bigot assumes this...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 660 words.)

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