Sunday, November 20, 2011

Non-Conformity Post

The Dangers of Non-conformity

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that to be great is to be misunderstood. The same is true for non-conformists. One of the greatest dangers of being a non-conformist is being misunderstood. Humans are highly intelligent creatures, but we fear what we don’t understand, and when we are afraid we lash out. One example is the current fear of terrorism. When we were attacked our country made Islam synonymous with terrorism because we didn’t understand it, even though a large portion of followers of Islam are innocent of any violence toward America. When we don’t understand we something we believe that our own beliefs are superior because they are familiar, and people who believe otherwise end up being the subject of persecution. We often do not take the time to consider what is unfamiliar to us, and immediately take action to defend what we know. Being a non-conformist who challenges the current norm is dangerous because it attracts the ire of those who are not open to a different way of doing things.
Non-conformists also face the danger of challenging what is currently accepted. Many people do not wish for things to be different. Many are content to live their lives within the social boundaries set for them. When people do not conform to these rules, when they cross these social boundaries, people who are loathe to relinquish their current life will fight back. Generally the number of those fighting back is greater than the number of people who are challenging the status quo. When people challenge the status quo, the architects of the current will vehemently guard what they have created. People are apt at changing when it suits them, but many people will change to a certain point, but when they reach that point they will stop clambering for change. Non-conformity is seen as radical, and the society we live in does not encourage radical thinking. People will fight for the preservation of the current society, even of it is unknowingly, and attempt to stop changes that bypass what they are used to.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Modern Day Transcendentalist Post

Modern Day Transcendentalist

                The world is a very different place compared to the days of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was not too far off when he predicted what our world would be like today. We live in an age of technology, a world where man’s creations cover large tracts of the habitable Earth. Our lives are connected at a global level, and conformity is alive and flourishes. Transcendentalism is not very widespread today, but it is still found in some people. One of these people is Barbara Kingsolver. Barbara Kingsolver is an author and essayist, whom I have met personally, and is a modern day transcendentalist because of the time she spent removed from society to write her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Barbara Kingsolver simplified her life in the modern age. Her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, is a chronicle of a year she and her family spent living on a farm with very minimal connections with the outside world. Kingsolver and her family spent a year on a farm growing their own food, and buying all else they needed from their neighbors. Outside of a few items, such as coffee, they were completely self-sufficient and disconnected from the outside world. This is an act of transcendentalism because in the world we live in we buy our food and interact with many people in many places all the time. Growing your own food on a farm, secluded from the outside world is an action that does not conform to the majority of the society we live in. People in this world complicate their lives with technology, and Kingsolver was able to simplify her life from all of this technology. Simplifying your life in this day and age is extremely difficult, and not something many people try to do. Kingsolver bucked this trend when she and her family spent a year away from society. That is why she is a modern day transcendentalist.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Walden Essay


                Progress has been a part of human life since the beginning of man. Humans have been making improvements ever since our first days, and that progress has gone on through time to create the world we have today. Progress is a good thing; it helps us live in the world, it helps us make the world better, and it is one of the things that really sets man apart from the other animals in the world. Progress is also a destructive force. In both a philosophical and literal since, progress takes resources to create, and destroys what is currently in place. The products from this destruction, however, are extremely good in most cases, and are not something we could live without. Progress is both a good and destructive force.
                Progress is destructive in a purely philosophical sense. When a new idea becomes accepted, the previously accepted idea is collateral damage. While something new is being created, something old is rendered obsolete and therefore useless, destroying the idea. Progress is essentially a never ending cycle of creation and destruction, with both destruction to make creation, and destruction by creation. The theory that the Earth was flat was rendered obsolete when the theory of a spherical Earth was finally acceptable. While the idea still exists, it is essentially worthless. This is a good destruction, one where a thing is destroyed for something better.
                The destruction caused by progress is very literal as well. To create something new, it necessary to experiment to find something new and how it can be used effectively. It takes resources to complete an experiment, and when the experiment fails the resources are wasted and sometimes other adjacent resources are destroyed as well. When an experiment is successful, it takes resources to replicate it. Metal infrastructure used in buildings makes them more secure, but it also takes resources to make the supports. As long as the value of the product outweighs the price, progress is a good force.
                One thing that can be said about progress is that it is a good force. The best example of this is medicine. Before this modern age there were pandemics, like the plague, that ravaged society. Today we can control, and defeat many pandemics, and a large portion of diseases in general. Even a few hundred years ago, people died of things we can cure today. People today don’t die because they don’t know better than to use their water supply as a restroom.  Today we can transplant new organs, destroy germs on a radioactive level, fight cancer and genetic diseases, and perform surgeries with a focused laser. Medicine can be dangerous if done wrong or in excess, but it saves many more lives than it hurts.

                Progress is a key piece of human existence. We keep evolving, both literally and technically, and we would not still be here without the products of these changes. Progress can be a destructive force. By its own nature, progress destroys things. However, progress also makes things, which are just as important as the things lost. As long as the value of the products of progress is greater than the things that were lost in creation, progress is a good, destructive force.