Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass,
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite philosophizers. Known for leading the transcendentalist movement, Emerson has inspired millions from across the world with his many lectures and printed essays.
This month’s quote originates from Emerson’s chapter on Courage found in a collection of lectures and essays, entitled Society and Solitude. These words ring true in any age of any civilization. Whether it be a sky scraper, a mural or a monument, the human civilization has honored the works of others who have the capacity to envision, correlate and physically create something that moves them to act. Inventions, architecture or art have all been mediums for the creative and open minded people. I will not begin to claim only few truly have the capacity to achieve their goals or to physically manifest their desires. No, though it may seem only few out of so many are capable of such success, we all have it in us to make possible. Passion, purpose are all the ingredients needed to spark that fuse that has been waiting to be lit. And when it’s lit, oh boy, the world better be ready.
Now, if you were to do a little digging you may find the paragraph this quote begins. And upon finding it, you may find yourself enlightened.
Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass, – the man who can build the boat, who has the impiety to make the rivers run the way he wants them; who can lead his telegraph through the ocean from shore to shore ; who, sitting in his closet, can lay out the plans of a campaign, sea-war and land-war, such that the best generals and admirals, when all is done, see that they must thank him for success ; the power of better combination and foresight, however exhibited, whether it only plays a game of chess, or whether, more loftily, a cunning mathematician, penetrating the cubic weights of stars, predicts the planet which eyes had never seen ; or whether, exploring the chemical elements whereof we and the world are made, and seeing their secret, Franklin draws off the lightning in his hand; suggesting that one day a wiser geology shall make the earthquake harmless and the volcano an agricultural resource. Or here is one who, seeing the wishes of men, knows how to come at their end; whispers to this friend, argues down that adversary, moulds society to his purpose, and looks at all men as wax for his hands; takes command of them as the wind does of clouds, as the mother does of the child, or the man that knows more does of the man that knows less, and leads them in glad surprise to the very point where they would be: this man is followed with acclamation.
An amazing message. Now though Emerson explains this as an attribute of courage, it is not hard to see the relevance to what Mr. Hill is trying to expound upon in chapter 7. Now, though there is a lack of femininity in this passage, one must only look to our modern times to see how the women of today exhibit every ounce of courage stated in Emerson’s lecture. But it is not a question of men or woman, it is a matter of who indeed are the brave ones.
Originally published in 1870, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Society and Solitude is a collection of Emerson’s lectures given while touring the country. Transcribed into philosophical essays, his lectures have been added to the immense archive of influential literature. In fact it seems, now a days, it would be difficult to throw a stone without hitting a quote or other piece of literature from Mr. Emerson’s works.
Written by: David Leingang