Self-Reliance Questions and Answers
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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How does Emerson's "Self-Reliance" impact the world today?

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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays contain many ideas that are still relevant some 180 years after he wrote them. "Self-Reliance" is fundamentally about integrity and each person’s need to evaluate evidence about a given situation and make decisions based on their own values. Emerson speaks of the “sacred” character of “the integrity of your own mind.” He strongly cautions the reader to resist conformity and not to blindly imitate others.

There are many realms of society in which the influence of others’ behavior can be damaging. Peer pressure can lead children to engage in hostile and even violent behavior toward others. Suspicion and intolerance of those perceived as different from oneself can lead to bullying through words, such as cyberbullying, and deeds, such as physical attacks. Hate crimes are extreme versions of actions that can result from unthinking imitation and the intolerance it engenders. In the United States, attacks on transgender people substantially increased in...

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