The comedian Mark Russell said you can judge a generation by its magazines.
Life magazine was first published in 1883. It was followed by
People in 1974, which was followed by
Us, which was followed by
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803, just a few weeks before the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the American people by President Thomas Jefferson. Emerson was 23 when Jefferson died.
America was still heavily influenced by Europe, but Ralph Waldo Emerson saw a future that no one else could see.
At the age of 34, he gave a speech to a group of college students in Boston that provided a visionary, philosophical framework for escaping the influence of Europe and building a distinctly American cultural identity. That speech was entitled “The American Scholar” and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered it to be America’s “intellectual Declaration of Independence.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a poet, a writer, a lecturer and an encourager who inspired generations of positive thinkers that stir among us to this day. Friedrich Nietzsche considered him “the most gifted of the Americans” and Walt Whitman referred to him as his “master.”
Emerson was also a passionate opponent of slavery. Throughout his life he urged Congress to bring slavery to an immediate and permanent end.
When Emerson was lecturing in Springfield, Illinois on January 10, 1853, a then-unknown Abraham Lincoln was in the audience. Years later, Lincoln invited Emerson to the White House and told him of the impact that lecture had on him.
Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke with whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability when he said,
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
Modern businesspeople believe whimsy, sentimentality, and vulnerability to be weaknesses.
But I know those people to be wrong.
When you choose to like a person who does not like you, this is whimsy.
It is hard not to like a person who likes you.
When you choose to believe in someone, this is sentimentality.
It is hard not to love a person who believes in you.
When you say something that requires humility and love, this is vulnerability.
It is hard not to trust a person who says something that only a humble, loving person would say.
As a writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson was lofty. But as a person, he was famously open and vulnerable.
Vulnerability is the price of intimacy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Self Reliance in 1841.
Elbert Hubbard wrote A Message to Garcia in 1899.
Dale Carnegie updated Emerson’s ideas in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936.
Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937.
Norman Vincent Peale added a veneer of Christianity in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, in 1952.
Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson wrote The One Minute Manager in 1982.
Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989.
Joel Osteen wrote Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day in 2007.
And every one of those writers owes a debt to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Life, People, Us, Self.
is about more than just business. It’s about balance. It’s about the freedom to be stupid with old friends.
cover the earth. They speak lots of languages and have confusing cultures, but every person is made in the image of God.
is problematic because it necessitates the idea of “Them,” those who are not Us. Uh-oh.
is who you think about when no one is more important to you than you.
Roy H. Williams
NOTE: If you are planning to read Emerson, the place to begin is with these book recommendations of James Marcus.
Roving reporter Rotbart is taking a Sabbatical until Labor Day so that he can finish his new book about Volunteer Firefighters before the deadline. I’ve suggested to the rover that his son, Maxwell, ought to interview him so that you and I can hear all about this new book after it is finished. Volunteer Firefighters! What will Rotbart think of next! You can count on me to let you know the day of the return of MondayMorningRadio.com