According to "Self-Reliance," an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members," and "...you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it." Emerson obviously understood the workings of human society quite well. He says that society works to destroy the "manhood" of its members. This "manhood" could be a number of things, but any interpretation, directly or indirectly, points to the wanton destruction of free-will. Free-will requires a free-thinking and open mind. This is exactly what society discourages in its younger members. Students in so-called "schools of learning" are herded around like cattle, and constantly force-fed idealistic versions of the truth. Many of these "lessons for life" are nothing more than lies. According to those with the money and power, this sort of teaching is necessary for the overall well- being of each individual, and society as a whole. These are the ones who feel they "know what is your duty better than you know it yourself." Much like trickle-down economics, this thinking is passed on to each social caste and generation through every facet of American life until it is generally regarded as "the way things have always been." Many people often come to realize their life is being molded by others, and feel they have little control over it. This type of thinking is first regarded as preposterous paranoia, but sooner or later these people realize such radical and "subversive" thoughts are true. Those who fail to look beyond the surface instantly point fingers at anyone different. The ills of society are constantly being blamed on "niggers", "Jews", "tree-huggers", or "aliens". Not only is such thinking absurd, but this is exactly how "they" or "the Man" want us to think, whoever this elusive entity may be. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," says Emerson. By this he means to break away from traditional thought. Do not accept everything at face value. Think for yourself instead of instantly accepting everything you are told. Avoid the "It's true, I saw it on The X-Files!" syndrome. Emerson also states "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." Emerson suggests to question everything that is presented to you. If something seems doubt- ful, refute it. Do not accept something merely because you are pressured into doing so. A fine example is organized religion. Religious beliefs should not be subscribed to because it is the norm. Remember, nothing is more sacred than the integrity of your own mind. Do not be afraid to stray from traditional thought. The rewards may not be instantaneous, but for the sake of your own mind, it is essential. --- Emerson advocates free-thinking, and by this he seeks to better the minds of his fellow citizens. Some individuals may not have the mental capacity to do so, but a questioning and free-thinking mind is of much more value than conforming with society for the sake of personal peace.