Monday, September 6, 2010

A Foolish Consistency

If not for Ms. Grumet, my 10th grade English teacher, a conversation today would not have reminded me of the American transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. In honor of Ms. Grumet, and of Mr. Emerson himself, here is the passage I thought of, because it covers a multitude of sins.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. -- ` Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood .' -- Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance," 1841

Emerson, you know, thought a lot of himself. I shall ask you, instead, to forgive my inconsistencies.

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