Week 9: Henry David Thoreau Post due Wed., Oct. 28th

Hi Students:

As we think about the mixed legacies of our “Founding Fathers” (George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, etc), here’s a recent development in NYC. Please read about how the statue of Thomas Jefferson will be removed from City Hall.

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Nice work on your extremely interesting posts on Ralph Waldo Emerson and his writings that promoted the Transcendental Movement.

Several of you pointed to the beauty, power, and continued relevance of his essay “Nature”.  Maria talks of how truly “moving” the essay is and how Emersonian philosophy can actually change us if we let it.  She quotes the line: “Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes” and explains that this concept is what we now know as “grounding” or “earthing” (i.e. getting our spiritual bearings in a mad, mad world!)  For Sumayah, the essay’s importance is Emerson’s stress on finding “inner peace” by occasionally removing ourselves from society. We can also access Nature’s enormous power as Mehreen and Ulises write. Mehreen quotes the line:  “We must trust the perfection of the creation so far, as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy.”  Amy and Karina, in turn, comment on the compelling line that “To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.” As they clarify, we must open ourselves to the power of Nature to regain our lost purity and our true sense of self.

Several of your wrote on his intriguing, “The American Scholar.” Zariff quotes the great line that we are all too often “the victim of society” … and merely  “parrot of other men’s thinking.”  Tenzin connects Emerson to how students need to be independent thinkers today and quotes the fantastic line: “Free should the scholar be, — free and brave. Free even to the definition of freedom.” To capture this same point, Ariel chose the line: “Colleges … can only highly serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create … and  set the hearts of youth on flame.”  We need to be “nourished” by college not treated like mere robots, writes Enson. Let’s also keep in mind Emerson’s point, as Nelson reminds that “Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst” .  We need to be truly “active” readers and original thinkers.

All these points come to a crescendo in Emerson’s towering “Self-Reliance.” Mohammed chose the line: “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think” , connecting it to his own challenges of not letting the thoughts of others “dictate” his life. Brian writes, “After reading Emerson’s essay, I think he is saying that while we are capable of thinking for ourselves, we often follow in the footsteps of others. In a way it’s like “monkey see monkey do.” Well said!!! Cristin similarly warns that “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” It’s hard to be an individual but we always need to believe in ourselves, Amina adds, quoting the line: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” 

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This week we move on to Emerson’s equally impressive protégé and student: Henry David Thoreau.  Thoreau took Emerson’s idea to heart, actually moving to a cabin on Walden Pond (in Concord), living by himself for 2 years, 2 months, and two days!!! Why he did this and what he learned in the woods is the basis for his classic book Walden, or Life in the Woods (1845).  Please watch the video below that explores his aims. 

Please also read excerpts from his work: HERE

Here is the Full Book (For Future Reading): Walden

Also consider reading a fascinating recent article on Walden‘s relevance to young people today:

“The Fragility of Solitude: What Thoreau Could Teach Me, a Pakistani American Woman?”

Thoreau did not just hide out from society. While living in his cabin on Walden Pond, he wrote one of the world’s most important protest essays: “On Civil Disobedience.”  In protest of slavery and America’s war with Mexico (in 1844), he famously refused to pay his taxes and was put in jail (for two days). The essay explains why he can’t pay taxes to a government that is corrupt and that we all should go to jail rather than acquiescing to a nation’s evil actions (the heart of civil disobedience).  His essay was extremely important to later social activists including Ghandi (in India) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (who himself wrote a famous letter while imprisoned in a Birmingham Jail.)

Please read this excerpt of Civil Disobedience

POST ASSIGNMENT: Comment on a passage from either Walden or “Civil Disobedience” (or from one of the articles) that strikes you as particularly interesting and important.

39 Comments

  1. Mohammed Islam

    While reading the excerpts from Walden, a part that I found interesting and important was when he said “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more that his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” I kind of agree with this statement because now we are too focused on more than less. We want more and can’t see ourselves without things we don’t really need. The saying “The less is more” is a good one to bring up here. Simplicity is key. It’s almost like as a society we forgot how living a simple life can make us happier. Although this might not be true for everyone, we spend and waste a lot of money and time on things we don’t need. We tend to forget about the little things and are focused on bigger things in life. Also, sometime people do way more than they need to in a day which can lead to burn out. People should take it easy and simplify what they do and what they have. I know it’s easier said than down, i sometimes overdue things too. I thing the less is more.

    • sumayah

      i agree! people think we you live a simple life it would mean your boring which is entirely incorrect, as said in the passage simplicity is key!

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent post Mohammed on the virtues of simplicity. I love the quote you chose to discuss:
      “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more that his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”

  2. Ulises

    From the article “The Fragility of Solitude: What Thoreau Could Teach Me, a Pakistani American Woman?” by Rafia Zakaria, one quote that strikes me is the following one: “When you grow up in a society that values togetherness with unrelenting ardor, you learn how easily you can be alone around other people.” In my opinion, it seems to be a very powerful and strong phrase, since it is a completely fact and it is something that should be talked about more. This phrase refers to how hypocrisy exists, how there is falsehood, contempt, envy, and many more bad vibes in a social group, in a community, or even in the family, in some cases. Where you have to stay quiet, to avoid all this negativity, only to fit in a group in some situation. Also, just to avoid being alone, the solitude… and the irony that you are still alone even so when you are having company. Again, that is something that it should be talked about more, several people have no one else to be accompanied by, and they have to be with these “unrelenting ardor” people, suffering internally and in silence to continue being alone, which it might be worse than being alone by yourself! George Washington once said, “It is better to be alone, than to be in bad company.”

    • sumayah

      well said on the last quote! very inspiring.

    • Mark Noonan

      You picked an excellent quote , Ulises that nicely distinguishes the central creed of America (Individualism and so-called freedom) and the values other nations support (community and family). Each value has its virtues and challenges but you also capture well, a la Thoreau, the challenges of peer pressure and the suffering that can ensue (suddenly I’m thinking of the isolating effects of Facebook and Instagram of youngsters now in the news!)

  3. sumayah

    “I looked out on the pond it impressed me like a tarn high up on the side of a mountain, its bottom far above the surface of other lakes, and, as the sun rose, I saw it throwing off its nightly clothing of mist, and here and there by degrees, while the mists, like ghosts, were stealthily withdrawing in every direction into the woods, as at the breaking up of some nocturnal conventicler” I really enjoyed reading theses lines, not only that it was beautified by imagery describing each detail but the author was also trying to express his love and emotion for the lake he sees. “Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito’s wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry, — determined to make a day of it…” I belive that the author is trying to talk about inner peace, he says let us spend a day in nature to see whats out there, to see the difference between nature and our “world” because they are two different worlds if you think about it.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very eloquent post and observation in your final line Sumayah. You also astutely pick up on the beautiful use of imagery Thoreau (and Emerson) utilize in their inspiring writings. Nicely done. You make me want to take a trip into the woods right now!

  4. Brian Chan

    In regards to “Civil Disobedience”, the passage that interests me is when the reading mentions, “For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever”. I interpret this a lesson that teaches us the importance of doing things well even if its not something noticeable. This reminds me of a quote from a movie that mentioned, “A small job if done well, means a lot”. An example of this is Jeff Bezos himself. His company started in a garage and made smart choices. Now his company is an aspect of most if not all of our lives. The concept of humble beginnings leading to greatness and legacy even. That, is what I find wonderful and wish to accomplish.

    I also found a passage equally as important in which the reading mentions, “right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable”. I interpret this as the ability to be a free thinker and decide for yourself when the choices of leaders may not be in the right direction. To become part of a hive mind or detach from it.

    • Mark Noonan

      You pick two great lines here, Brian, from Thoreau that gets at the heart of each essay.
      Thoreau indeed asks us to “go confidently in the direction of our dreams” in the way you describe. He courage to stand up and speak up against “tyranny” is also so important. Nicely done.

  5. Brianna

    Henry Thoreau says that he wishes to “live deliberately” in Walden. He means that he wants to live in such a way that he does as much things as possible that make him happy. He does not want to do things under society’s obligation. He believes that many things suck the marrow out of our lives, meaning that certain barriers keep us from living or best lives and being truly happy. Many things can suck the marrow out of our lives, mostly living under society’s obligation. We often times seeks approval from society because we want to be put in a certain category to be approved. My definition of “living deliberately” is to walk down your own path. When you walk down your own path you make your own decisions and in making your own decisions you learn from any mistakes you make.

    • Mark Noonan

      Brianna, you absolutely chose the key word in his entire book: living “deliberately.” Yes we are in charge of our own lives – as you discuss – and we need to trust ourselves to create the best lives we can. Nicely stated.

  6. Ariel Montesino

    While I was reading Walden , one of the lines that stood out to me was this question, “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but
    conscience?— in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? ” To be honest, I don’t think there can be such a government. Majority rules have always applied whether right or wrong; even if the people follow their conscience or not. Our conscience is just there to guide us and isn’t always our final decision. We often don’t follow our conscience. I’ve had plenty of times where I don’t trust my gut feeling and go paranoid trying to decide my decision. Majority rules just tend to be overall better option.

    • Mark Noonan

      You make an important point about how “what we think” does really matter in a political society when the majority thinks otherwise, Ariel. Thoreau, of course, says this should not change things: do and think what you think is right and stand up when you see others doing wrong. Very good post.

  7. Zarif

    I read excerpts from “Civil Disobedience” and what caught my eye was how Henry spoke of the government. He explained how the government is something that people use to their advantage, something like a wooden gun. He explains how the government does not keep the country free, and I have to agree. The government is just a set of rules, however a lot of people in the country try to move around to break and bend these rules. Then he explains some of the flaws of the government, how instead of laws if conscience can be judged and I agree with this point. Sometimes the government can be very unfair and does need a little tweaking to fix the system.

    • Mark Noonan

      Excellent bit of political science Zarif. Nations are only as good as the people in it. Laws cannot be effective if people bend them to their own purposes, by figuring out how not to pay their fair of taxes say. Right now the Democrats are trying to tweak these laws but how did we get laws that do lead to obvious inequality. It would be interesting to write a paper on the obviously bad laws that exist and how our “collective conscience” knows better. How about free college for all students (student debt laws are crippling young people today)!!! Very good post.

  8. tenzin tsomo

    “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau argues that citizens must disobey the rule of law when the law proves to be unfair. Thoreau uses his own experiences and explains why he refused to pay taxes in protest of slavery and the Mexican War. Thoreau argues that there are two laws, the laws of men and the higher laws of God and humanity. If the laws of men are unfair, then one has every right to disobey them. I think that the statement David Thoreau made was very important because Thoreau challenges his audience to make sure their actions do not at the very least promote injustice. He’s emphasizing that this is the least thing that people should use to live their lives. Although he is still advocating for the people to break from the government and its actions, he is arguing that this is not a huge or ambitious request given that one’s life should be spent avoiding committing injustice. Thus, if that means disobeying the government, then one must disobey. I believe that everyone should have a voice and they should vocalize what they believe is true instead of following it blindly just because it’s a rule of law. Public opinions are important because it allows guiding government action, influences public policy, gives feedback to politicians. It gives self-rule in democracy.

    • Mark Noonan

      I like the two points you make in this compelling post Tenzin. First, ” If the laws of men are unfair, then one has every right to disobey them,” and two, the importance of public opinion to change rules and laws that do not serve the populace very well. You write: “Thoreau challenges his audience to make sure their actions do not … promote injustice.” Well said!!!

  9. majoguadua

    Once again, I feel speechless after my readings.
    I can totally see why Henry David Thoreau influenced people like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
    After finishing the excerpts of Walden, once again I feel that “being awake”, and the “self-awareness” have nothing to do with someone’s surroundings and time of existence.
    Because even though his surroundings were calling, “obedience”, he did the opposite, he listened to his inner self. Which led him to do exactly what he did in the woods.

    Every word of Walden had an effect in my mind while reading it, but this part was something else for me, I felt it so deep that I had to even read it to the people close to me at the moment.

    “Men frequently say to me, “I should think you would feel lonesome down there, and want to be nearer to folks, rainy and snowy days and nights especially.” I am tempted to reply to such, — This whole earth which we inhabit is but a point in space. How far apart, think you dwell the two most distant inhabitants of yonder star, the breadth of whose disk cannot be appreciated by our instruments? Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way? This which you put seems to me not to be the most important question. What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another….”

    I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another….”

    His idea of the universe connecting two souls without the need of “being close”, or how he refers to the fact that distance does not measure the line that separates us. I can only feel related to his way of thinking, and amazed at the way he said it.

    I don’t know how to call the fact that I have been reading in this course about people and texts to which I feel profoundly connected, maybe it is a coincidence, maybe is the same universe sending me this to grow my already existent belief. All I can say is that every time I finish an assignment I feel hungry for more. I feel that each of the people we have read about brings something to my mind that teaches me something in a way that nothing else could. I feel like I’m learning something that isn’t in the lines, something that can’t be found in books, and I just love that.

    • Mark Noonan

      I must say Maria that your reaction to the wisdom and eloquence of Emerson and Thoreau is similar to my own when I first encountered these writers (and who I continuously read). They made me want to become an English teacher in fact. What I also admire about your response is how well you (and so many other appreciative readers across time) recognize the immense power, philosophical depth, and sheer greatness of Thoreau who truly truly “practiced what he preached.” This summer make a trip to Walden Pond in Concord; it’s still an enchanting place! Thanks for this exhilarating post.

  10. Enson Zhou

    After reading Waldon’s passage a line in particle stood out to me. The Line goes “When you grow up in a society that values togetherness with unrelenting ardor, you learn how easily you can be alone around other people.” I completely agree with what Waldon is trying to say that since we all grew up having close-knit relationships with certain people, it becomes difficult to establish a connection when engaging with other people. Not all people have a problem being alone with others but, for those who have a close-knit connection with a certain group of people being alone, it can make it somewhat difficult to open up. This relates to me because when I was in middle school, I used to be that one shy and quiet kid in the classroom and when I would go home I would be like a completely different person. This is because I was so closely knit with my family that when I wasn’t around them it would be hard to make friends. Ever since those middle school years, I have made major improvements in high school and created many friends. Reading Waldon’s quote just made me think how how this is related to me.

    • Enson Zhou

      Correction: This quotation was based on the “The Fragility of Solitude: What Thoreau Could Teach Me, a Pakistani American Woman?” article”

    • Mark Noonan

      Enson, you picked a fantastic and intriguing line here to discuss from “The Fragility of Solitude.” Whereas Thoreau speaks to the need to be alone and the importance of individualism, this very American creed often comes into conflict with the values of other nations and nationalities (that value family and community much more). I like your final point too, that simply understanding this difference, can help adjust to American society, while maintaining important collective and familial values. Excellent post.

  11. Amina Shabbir

    What stood out to me in “ Excerpt From Walden” by Henry David Thoreau is “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard times. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is.” This was extremely inspiring to me as it conveys a message that whatever occurs in life, accept it and don’t blame it on anything or anybody. When things don’t go as planned, we often blame ourselves and others, but we never try to understand why. I believe Henry meant that no matter how terrible life is or what sort of obstacles a person has, they should never give up and accept the reality that bad times will pass. People should not be anxious about the hardships they are facing since difficult conditions frequently make people stronger than they believe they are. A weak and critical person, in my opinion, would find flaws in everything and everyone. As a result, it is preferable to appreciate and love your life as much as possible.

    • Mark Noonan

      You picked out a great quote from Thoreau that’s often overlooked and underappreciated:
      “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard times. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is.”
      Your explanation of it shows how wise (and useful) Thoreau is as a down-to-earth philosopher. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Karina

    As I was reading “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau, I was astounded by every word he was saying. It’s incredible to see that unfairness in society from back in the days still embarks on today’s society. Some of the lines that spoke out to me were ” Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
    The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.” With these words rights here, he is saying that he would much abide by what he sees to be right and fair and not simply respect government laws that seem to be unfair. Thoreau was a great example of being a peaceful activist, in which he simply did not pay taxes for six years and was placed in jail for one night. y doing so, he was able to inspire other people such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., to also take action to what they believed was not right from the government. We are all humans, therefore there should be no discrimination of whichever way and we should all be treated equally and fairly. It’s been understood for many years that holding a position in the government and politics does grant some advantages, but that does not give them the right to mock others and treat them unfairly.

    • Mark Noonan

      I really like your reading of Thoreau’s essay, Karina, particularly your insightful comment that every line really does “astound.” Excellent discussion and analysis of his morality and activism.

  13. Nelson Estrella II

    While i was reading the excerpt Civil disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, a line that stood out to me the most was when he compares gaming to voting, i find this interesting because he compares actually voting to checkers because voting can lead to you asking yourself moral questions about who you vote for and who not to, like checkers it’s a thinking game which is why I found it interesting he compared the two. Once again this line was important to me because it covers an important topic like voting rights and delivers the message in a way that’s understandable and relatable.

    • Mark Noonan

      You bring out a section from “Civil Disobedience” that I hadn’t thought about, Nelson. I agree that the analogy of voting to checkers (gaming) is an interesting one as both reply careful thought and deliberation.

  14. Terri.Ann

    Thoreau begins his Civil Disobedience essay by arguing that government only gets its power from the majority not from being the most beneficial. He continues to state that a person should more concerned with doing what is morally right instead of following popular laws like the right to own slaves for example. When a government is unjust, people should refuse to follow the law. A person should do whatever possible in his everyday living including but not limited to refusal to vote . Thoreau believes specifically the United States fits his criteria for an unjust government because of its support of slavery and war.
    Thoreau’s disdain for government made me think of my belief in the bible. I do not vote for any government because the bible describes as “the blind leading the blind.” How many times have we seen any one administration make promises to get into office and as soon as that power is given to them, they do the complete opposite of what was promised? While we both agree with not voting for government what I dont agree with is refusal to pay taxes because said government is corrupt. Jesus was asked by religious leaders if he believed that God is to do away with wickedness and governments, should we pay taxes, why even bother? Jesus replied ” Caesar’s things to Caesar’s but God things to God.” While I dont vote for example that doesnt give me the right to be disrespectful or try to change things on my own because as an imperfect human I cant.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very interesting comments Terri Ann. You do a fine job pointing out Thoreau’s key point that we should not follow laws that are hurtful to others. The slavery example you mention (or an unjust war) is a perfect reason to go against the government when it commits evil. Your comments on the importance of the Bible as a force for good is also apt. Indeed, Jesus was a brilliant moralist and philosopher in his own right. His moral teachings certainly flow through many of the readings we’ve covered and will be covering.

  15. Amy Li

    Just as Emerson emphasizes nature, Thoreau’s overall message is to make it that everyone living alone can relate to nature as it is good for the mind and the soul and body; he makes sure to help differentiate loneliness and solitude. Even when we are around people, sometimes we can feel that loneliness. Being able to connect to nature allows us to liberate ourselves and fully absorb nature around us. We should never feel alone as if we look at our planet; it’s tiny compared to the galaxies and space. In addition, we often spend too much time around each other to the point where the respect we have is lessened. It was interesting to learn how Rafria connected her culture as a Pakistani woman, taking on solitude. As her culture deeply values togetherness. The end of the article was an excellent connection to how we often do not notice the nature around us. She used to walk in the woods often while observing what was around her. She saw a machete at the end, and since then, the woods have changed meaning for her. As I mentioned in the previous week, I had stayed upstate New York with a group of interns. Only after staying upstate in the retreat was I able to embrace solitude and truly absorb the beauty of nature. I saw many things for the first time in my life through exploring on my own time. For some solitude may mean more, like freedom.

    • Mark Noonan

      Thanks for your rich and thoughtful reply Amy. It’s great how you got a chance to get away and experience “solitude” and see Nature fact to face earlier this semester. Your distinction between “solitude” and “loneliness” is an important one that Thoreau would appreciate.

  16. Mehreen Khanom

    I could relate to Rafia Zakaria, the writer of “The Fragility of Solitude What could Thoreau teach me, a Pakistani American woman?” She was an immigrant when she came here and my parents were immigrants too when they came to the United States. It was hard to fit in and get used to our surroundings since it’s a new country, culture, and environment. She wrote “The quizzical looks I expected from others were one portion of why I made sure to do this,” this is relatable because you have expectations when you go to a new place and you expect certain people to treat you a certain way. Sometimes you even try to please them to receive the expectations you want. One important line that stood out to me was “As for everything else, so for solitude: Context provides clues.” I agree with this because words are meaningless without action. The context will provide you hints in certain situations.

    • Mark Noonan

      I’m glad you chose to read and comment on this particular essay, Mehreen. Your reflections based on your own immigrant background are illuminating.

  17. Paulina Vega

    In the article “Civil Disobedience” the part of the passage that interested me was when it mentioned “But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.” This quote interests me because in order to receive respect as a government you have to show what kind of government you present yourself in public. This can be one way to show people and receive it.

    • Mark Noonan

      Great choice of quote to comment on Paulina!

  18. Christin

    In the excerpt from “Walden” by Henry Thoreau, he states “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” According to the definition of deliberately, this can convey that Henry feels apart of a system in which he is not in full control of all aspects of his life. He may feel as if he is just surviving and not actually living life in the way he wishes to. When he refers to the “essential facts of life”, readers may assume he is speaking about happiness,peace, good mental health, etc. I can relate to Henry because at times life seems go by at a pace we cant keep tract of. There is always something to worry about regarding our future and it can distract us from living in the presence. There are many aspects to life and we as individuals work hard to make sure they will eventually be fulfilling that we forget to cherish life as it is now. So when Henry says he went to the woods, this is his definition of peace. He can be in the woods & live life in the way he wants- peacefully. Most likely with out worrying about whats to come and just enjoying the beauty of nature in the present moment.

  19. haroodg

    What stood out to me in Civil Disobedience is this thought-provoking question “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” This line of thinking is as old as time itself. Thinking in this way promotes change and new ideas. As society grows governments are created to instill a sort of order within them. With laws, you are able to set the boundaries in that society. While these laws may keep order, they might alienate, stifle, or abuse certain aspects of society. By “transgressing” laws put into place, you create a path of evolution that might better society as a whole. Staying complacent and not challenging ideas will lead to a linear society filled with like-minded individuals.

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