Ralph Waldo Emerson on Nature

We are mammals, we are animals too. This is a lost idea because we consider ourselves better then nature. Emerson reminds us that we are part of nature. What this suggests is that because we are “rooted” in it, we need to work with nature instead of trying to make nature work with us. Our lives need to revolve around it, not try to make it work the other way around. The point that Emerson is trying to make is true; humans need to start living in our natural environment and respecting it. Why can’t an African village that has no food or water survive? Because nature is telling them not to live there but humans don’t listen.

Instead we feed them peanut butter jelly sandwiches and boxes of Ethos water. These people will never be able to sustain living in this area naturally but we try to force it. Emerson is also expressing that we are rooted in nature. That’s exactly why we look the way we do. Nature told us to grow hair because it would keep us warm, it told us to stand up straight and to grow eyebrows to keep the sun out of our eyes. Our lives were built around the environment; our DNA is rooted with the earth. So why go against it? It’s foolish to think that humans are better then Mother Nature.

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Unfortunately we can’t seem to grasp this idea fully, but that’s understandable. With all the technology today it’s easy to get lost in our hectic days full of phone calls, traffic and concrete. We don’t think of nature as the biggest aspect of all. We build houses in areas prone to flooding and expect some sand will stop it. If we listened to nature then humans would be able to survive with greater ease. Emerson describes nature as moral and spiritual inspiration and guidance, and this is correct. Your daily actions revolve around the weather, we go out for a run because it’s sunny and stay in to watch and movie because it’s raining.

Weather controls our lives more then we realize and we need to start appreciating it. We are animals too, Emerson understood this. When we live in harmony with nature, we get to see it for all its beauty. The reality however, is that it would be impossible to have everyone on earth feel the same way. If we move everyone from those villages in Africa, where would we put them? With an already over populated Earth, moving them someplace else would cause different problems. This vicious cycle will go on forever unless something drastic changes. Little by little the go-green campaign takes effect in our lives.

Will it ever bring us back to nature completely? Only time will tell. Individually we can, however make a change. It starts by getting back the appreciation for the land. Take the time out of your day to find a solitary spot in the park, garden or even your backyard. Sit and observe. Listen to the wind or our fuzzy friends we rarely observe in their own environment. Doing this can give you the inspiration and even the spiritual guidance, as Emerson says. Before we came to this land, the Natives lived here and understood it for all its worth.

I think we can learn something from that. Cut down a tree and plant another. Give back what you take away. We can live in balance with the Earth if we try. Emerson briefly mentions global warming as not being a concern. However, the damage we have caused will never be returned. Eventually we will have stripped down everything; oil, gold, coal, trees, we will never be able to give that back. The concerns of Emerson and other transcendentalist are what makes up the global warming problem, that humans continue to take from the Earth and damage it, and slowly lose everything.

Where would we be without oil, lumber and all the other natural resources we use continuously? As transcendentalists believe, man and nature have inherent goodness. That it is society that corrupts the individual and that man is best when he is completely self-reliant. This goes back to the example of the African Community. They cannot be self-reliant so they do not live healthy productive lives. The idea of transcendentalism is that society is the real problem. We care far too much about images too remember that there’s good stuff outside that you can enjoy for free.

Spending time in nature lets you reflect on yourself, which in turn make you a more independent person. It is hard to deny the importance of having a good relationship with the Earth. We live here, rely on it and won’t survive if it doesn’t want us to. Emerson mentions adopting patience like that which nature has, and this in itself should be the guidelines which we respect our surrounding. Have patience and remember that the only thing we are completely reliant on is nature, so work with it not against.