Self Reliance

That voice in my interior, which I believe, and for the sake of which I believe all else that I believe, commands me not merely to act in general. That is impossible . . . This voice of my conscience prescribes to me with certainty, in each particular situation of my existence, what I must do and what I must avoid in that situation. It accompanies me, if I will but listen to it with attention, through all the events of my life, and never refuses its reward where I am called to act. It establishes immediate conviction.

man is not a product of the world of sense; and the end of his existence can never be attained in that world. His destination lies beyond time and space and all that pertains to sense. He must know what he is and what he is to make himself. As his destination is sublime, so his thought must be able to lift itself up above all the bounds of sense. This must be his calling.

— Fichte, from “The Destination of Man”

This week I have been reading a lot of Emerson, Fichte, and Kant. The primary focus of my reading was the idea of “self-reliance”. Emerson describes the natural tendency of man to glide on the ambitions, thought and passions of others as “suicide”. How intensely do you consider our own personal philosophy and progression? Do you invest time in developing intellectual freedom? Do you consider your beliefs- the things you know to be absolute truths- to be a part of who you are? To what end would you go to defend these truths?

One of the things that sincerely irritates me is hearing of someone who removes themselves from their daily life, their responsibilities and calling, in order to “find themselves”. I think the idea is preposterous! You know the people: the ones who call emergency vacations in order to collect themselves. I silently beg them to be truthful, and admit that they are vacationing “in order to get some thoughtless R&R!”- there’s no shame in THAT, because it’s truthful! The moments in which one truly “finds” ones self are the moments in which one is immersed in the day to day happenings of life. Opportunities to react to every day situations are too valuable to avoid: THAT is “suicide”!

So, reader. Devote yourself to the progression of your own character: your “truths”, your philosophy, your passions; and be mindful of how you present your “self”. Self-reliance is one of the most valuable pursuits of this lifetime.

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