May 19, 2008
By Hatel Patel, Valdosta, GA

Reality is truth and searching oneself without conforming to society—Conforming to society does not contribute to one’s truth or self-reliance. Self-reliance is the key to finding the inner voice within oneself. The way to discover reality and truth is through the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency, following his or her own instincts and ideas.
Self-reliance and inner truth are the stepping-stones to fulfilling life goals. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on “Self-Reliance” carefully denotes that individuality is priceless and self-reliance overpowers conformity. Emerson conveys his message of self-reliance and non-conformity to his audience through rhetorical questions, biblical allusions, metaphors and similes. In paragraph sixteen of the essay Emerson states, “The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tracks.” Truth and reality do not come at one moment; there will always be mistakes, which will help shape the future. One who conforms to others views and opinions permits their own truth and reality to pass on. Emerson also implies that one must have faith in what they do involuntarily. In Emerson’s essay he implies that conforming to others values and truth one will not discover their own. Like Emerson, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave portrays non-conformity and self-reliance. The prisoners are the followers who were once punished and cannot break away to find their own truth and the fire is the false truth of society. Both Emerson and Plato believe that conforming to society does not fulfill one’s goal in life or finding truth in oneself. Truth and reality are only discovered through an individual and his or her own opinions.
Truth and self-reliance begins with faith in one’s self. Traveling down a “zigzag” path contributes to one discovering reality and truth in life. Conforming to society conveys one to never find inner-truth and claim another’s reality as theirs. As Emerson states “nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” Peace is only discovered when one finds the truth in themselves and learns from past mistakes in life.

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