Ethan MurrayBlackEnglish 111-10-18Rebellion: An American Ideal”Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ?? Ralph Waldo EmersonThe idea behind the transcendentalist movement was mainly based off Eastern religions. It was about trying to reach enlightenment, an idea from Eastern philosophy, which was then mixed in with Western culture. Eastern religion is about evolving yourself through effort that you make alone, within yourself. Christian religion, the main idea and religion during the transcendentalists’ lifetime in America , says that we are designed to have a relationship with God. Thoreau, however, states in Walden, “Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” (Village, 2) In addition the transcendentalist movement made impacts about how we think about religion, in that it’s not defined or fixed. Transcendentalism was about moving away from capitalism, from material possessions, and from industrialization. (Lachs and Talisse, 310) Rebelling against society is fundamentally an American idea. By rejecting it and being a part of nature, transcendentalists carved a new way of living that has influenced our philosophy since.Furthermore, Transcendentalism marked the peak of the Romantic Era, a movement which changed how Americans thought at the time. Before the Romantic Era was the era of Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. While these are all great writers, they wrote very rationally and viewed emotion as a flaw. In Walden, Thoreau writes with the purpose of his readers to experience a spiritual awakening. To succeed , he writes, one must explore within themselves. There are depths of potential within the human mind that would surprise us if we took the time to explore it. Ralph Waldo Emerson also shared these ideas in his book, Self-Reliance. He writes: “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.” (Emerson, 19). These ideas of self exploration and unlocking one’s true potential directly contrast with the rationality of the time period. By writing with the rejection of rationality, Thoreau rebels against the writers who preceded him.In fact, Thoreau goes further in his other writing, Resistance to Civil Government. He states: “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government…that government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” (Thoreau, H. D. “Resistance to Civil Government”). Thoreau rejects the government the rationalists had built before him, and instead believes a political system of anarchism would be better than government institutions.Rejection of societal norms is a clear American idea; by rejecting it and being a part of nature, transcendentalists carved a new way of living that has influenced our philosophy since. Rebelling is an American idea because it is what our country is based upon. Without rebellion or rejection of “the norm,” or “routine,” or “the way things are,” we would not have the country that we have today. Many people today believe that protesting and rebelling are counter-productive and pointless, but our country was built upon open rebellion. Transcendentalism and the movements that followed after it contributed to this legacy of rebellion by rejecting industrialized society and focussing on the self and nature.

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