Many Americans no longer trust the institutions that govern our lives. The failure of the Congress to reach an accord and the ensuing government shutdown is Exhibit #1. As one commentator said, America is starting to look like Italy—always in a state of crisis, always teetering on the edge of chaos.
So, who can we trust?
Are we left with just one source: ourselves?
Self-reliance is one of 10 core American values. According to my national surveys, more than 80% of Americans agree that “I would rather depend on myself than on others” and “I rely on myself most of the time.”
The value of self-reliance goes back to the founding of the nation. It was given eloquent form in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s classic essay, Self-Reliance, published in 1847. Consider the three main points from the Sage of Concord’s essay.
The self-contained genius: “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.”
Ignore the world: “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance, that imitation is suicide…”
Trust yourself: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
Do you trust yourself?
Do Emerson’s words ring truer now than ever before?
Are we left with just one source to trust: ourselves?
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