What has Thoreau contributed to society?What has Thoreau contributed to society?
I would say that Thoreau has contributed a great deal to society. The fact that he was so passionate about taking the subjectivity of Transcendentalism and applying it in a personal context proves to be something that is powerful in its transformative quality. Modern education of character is rooted in a Thoreauian element. Any primary school classroom teaches ideas that Thoreau advocated in their purest form. Standing up for oneself, working together to achieve a community, and listening to one's heart are all elements of Thoreau that have become embedded in our modern educational setting. At the same time, there is a fairly impressive list of people who have been influenced by Thoreau's writing and his beliefs. Gandhi, Kennedy, Dr. King, Tolstoy, Wright, and Sinclair are but a few of the individuals who have said that Thoreau had an impact on their own thinking. That would be reason enough to suggest that Thoreau has contributed much to society in his influence.
Thoreau's important contributions of thought regarding Individualism, the importance of fighting the tyranny of the majority who hold the "wooden gun" of government have been great; however, these contributions are mitigated and even castigated by many in twentieth-first century America. Perhaps the most respect that he yet receives is in his love and respect for nature. Attributing Thoreau to his "spiritual awakening," Don Henley, formerly of the Eagles rock group, has founded the Walden Woods Project to protect a part of Walden Woods that Thoreau writes about in Walden.
Nevertheless, despite his political unfavor in modern American there is to this day, the Thoreau Society that clebrates the simple man's life, work, legacy, and genius.