The Difference Between Persecution and Contradiction

The transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson stressed that maintaining an open mind requires the ability to understand that contrary opinions are not innately steeped in ill will.

Words of wisdom from the journals of American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, 8 November 1838.

Emerson's words retain relevance today, particularly in the age of the 24-hour news cycle in which sound bites and scorching hot takes command the most attention and elicit the highest amount of clicks. Within Emerson's advice are two key points. First, he refutes that ideas in and of themselves are persecutory; persecution is instead the stuff of action. While ideas are admittedly fuel for acts, we cannot fool ourselves into equating opinions to the maladies of persecution. The political correctness thought police could learn a thing or two here.

Second, and perhaps more obvious, Emerson chides those who are so ridiculously devoted to the righteousness of their own ideas that anything which poses a contrary opinion must inherently be dangerous. The most plain real-world example of this today is the illusory "War on Christianity" propped up by the American right-wing media, in particular the assumption that any push for marriage equality across society is an affront to the personal liberties of individual Christians. It's not. Open up your ears, folks, because Ralphy W.E. is spitting truth.

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants can last over a year, new study finds

We must rethink the "chemical imbalance" theory of mental health.

Bottles of antidepressant pills named (L-R) Wellbutrin, Paxil, Fluoxetine and Lexapro are shown March 23, 2004 photographed in Miami, Florida.

Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new review found that withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics can last for over a year.
  • Side effects from SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics last longer than benzodiazepines like Valium or Prozac.
  • The global antidepressant market is expected to reach $28.6 billion this year.
Keep reading Show less

Is there a limit to optimism when it comes to climate change?

Or is doubt a self-fulfilling prophecy?

David McNew/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

'We're doomed': a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…