Essay on Defining Self-Reliance

Essay on Defining Self-Reliance

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“Nothing can bring to a man so much of happiness or so much of misery as man himself.” – Frederick Douglass

Since the dawn of the creation of man until our present day, we have pondered on the idea of being in control of our destiny. However, an answer to such a difficult proposition did not present itself until the late 19th century. This era gave birth to the Lyceum movement, which sparked belief in individualism amongst Americans. The two men known to be the catalyst of this theory were Frederick Douglas and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Moreover, this concept of free will and becoming financially self-reliant is still prevalent in modern society. The mid-twentieth (20th) to the early twenty-first (21st) century has become the age of entrepreneurship, where peoples from all nations no longer desire to work “for the man” but create their own legacy of prosperity. Likewise, it is a period in time that has redefined the way in which those from all walks of life can obtain success and wealth. Hence, the evolution of reality TV stars, YouTube sensations and rappers from being ordinary individuals to becoming fashion designers, actors and CEOs. However, our definition of success is not only defined by wealth it also includes having a life of meaning that is similar to that of Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. and Malcolm X. Certainly, I am speaking of a life that encompasses the ability to change our world for the better.
Correspondingly, in his excerpt entitled “Self-Made Men” Frederick Douglas enlightens us about the theory behind the success of these individuals. According to Douglas, the best, if not the only explanation of their success is that they are men/women of work. He believes that although there may be other factors in soci...


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...r if God decides to rewrite your fate. As a result, this is the reason why as humans we will never completely be in control of our destiny.
In summary, the idea of self-reliance will continue to bewilder the minds of our current and future generations. In fact, this is due to the lack of a definite answer to the question. Nevertheless, I am persuaded that whether an individual be a believer or non-believer in having control of their destiny, there are forces or uncontrollable factors in life that have the ability to control a minute percentage of one’s destiny.



Works Cited


1. Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Self Reliance” (1841) http://www.emersoncentral.com/selfreliant.htm
2. Frederick Douglas – “Self-Made Men” (1872) http://www.monadock.net/douglass/self-made-men.html
3. New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Bible Gateway. Sat. Oct. 8, 2011.

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