What are the requisites for self-reliance?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emerson would suggest that one of the basic requisites needed for self- reliance is a sense of courage.  It takes courage for the individual to break free of the conformist changes of the social order and embrace the sense of identity that is within them.  For Emerson, this courage is a requisite for self- reliance because he believes that the spark of individuality that exists within each person is a manifestation of something primal, a divine force that transcends all.  This understanding is one that takes courage to embrace and to live.

Another requisite for self- reliance is the commitment to follow through on the challenge of nonconformity.  Emerson would stress that being able to understand the pressing need to break away from the conformist trend of the social order has to become a part of the individual's sense of identity.  It is a requisite for self- reliance because Emerson believes that when one embraces nonconformity, a commitment to self- identity is made and one should not retreat from this:  ‘‘Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.'' The need to live for one's ideas and ideals requires a commitment to non- conformity.

Embracing originality is a requisite for self- reliance.  Emerson succinctly demands that the individual notion of self- reliance relies on originality and uniqueness:  "‘‘Insist on yourself. Never imitate.’’ For Emerson, originality and distinctiveness are elements that are requisites for self- reliance.  The individual has to have a sense of grounded pride in their originality and retreat from imitation in all of its forms.  When they are able to do this, the path towards self- reliance can exist.

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