Any cultural heritage includes special pieces of writing that have changed people’s perception and attitude to life. Classical novels carry much weight and have a profound influence on a readership. Particularly, the literary masterpiece of Henry David Thoreau named “Civil Disobedience” belongs to exceptional pieces of literature, because its insightful philosophy and psychological principles make the reader deliberate about personal views and ultimately change the outlook. The author also demonstrates a deep understanding of human behavior in his book. A great number of quotations combined with the examples from Bible or current lifestyle of Americans add allure of intelligence and make its style elegant.
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In particular, there is one thought-provoking quotation that sounds as follows, ‘The best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is to endeavor to carry out those schemes which he entertained when he was poor’. Though the Thoreau’s manner of writing is complicated to comprehend for the modern readers, it is significant to give a detailed explanation of the abovementioned citation. In general, it concerns the transformation of human principles in case a poor man becomes rich. Specifically, if a person is attracted by simple things, has pure thoughts, and is honest, he or she will contribute to the society greatly when adhering to the same principles having become rich. Normally, people tend to entertain ambitious plans about changing the world for better. Making those same plans a reality when possessing financial resources is what could be beneficial for the society. Continuing his point of view, the author relates to people in a humanistic way. He advises them to keep to the initial beliefs and convictions because they are not affected by the damaging impact of money and privileged status of the rich people.
In fact, there is also some hidden sense which becomes evident while reading between the lines. In particular, the author subtly mentions sinful people seduced by richness who stifle the cultural development. Unintentionally, he contrasts hard-working and intelligent individuals with those who consciously disregard social values. Henry David Thoreau claims that when a person supports their original beliefs, they become involved in the general cultural progress. By contrast, in case a man who becomes upwardly mobile and unexpectedly shifts to an upper class cannot overcome their lust for power or money, and, thus, their thoughts and views have corrupt nature that favors material comforts over spiritual development.
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Relation of the Citation to Nowadays News
The impact of the given writer on the development of literature is usually difficult to understate. However, one indicator that shows topicality of his contribution to culture is a practical side and applicability of his citations to the contemporary life. Obviously, the division between rich and poor social groups has become a perennial issue. There have always been social strata that divide people into groups according to their wealth and income. Additionally, this separation serves as a sign of liberal society, although the transition of poverty-stricken people to a higher social class has been accelerated. Throughout history, new ways of generating profit emerged, and, at present times, even inexperienced beginners may become successful entrepreneurs. In a struggle to fulfill their ambitions and attain powerful position, people tend to forget about the values and dreams they originally had. Thus, the main idea expressed by Henry David Thoreau in the given quotation is still relevant and widely applicable. The reasons for this lie in the behavioral changes of the rich individuals who later become exposed to the negative influence of fame, glory, power, or money.
The first and most accurate example of the relevance of Thoreau’s quotation to contemporary news concerns politicians. In the beginning of their career, these high-profile figures are eager to protect less fortunate citizens and improve their living standards. Therefore, they aim to govern the country properly and focus their efforts and resources on the least protected social groups, including pensioners, students, and even LGBT representatives. In this way, they want to show their consideration for ordinary people and, as a result, loyalty to population. To attract more supporters, politicians may show in public their own simple lifestyle and reserved living conditions. Although they seem ambitious and vigorous to introduce positive changes during the election campaign, as soon as it ends, the winners tend to forget about promises and seek to assert their personal interests. At this point, it is logical to mention Silvio Berlusconi and his dubious deeds. Having achieved high position, the politician began to commit adultery with young actresses (The Guardian, 2011). Moreover, he did not feel shy to demonstrate this unacceptable behavior publicly, and, obviously, his scandals depict the opposite side of prosperity. After becoming rich, Silvio Berlusconi neither managed to follow his early schemes nor fulfilled them, thereby showing that unseemly actions may go unpunished. It is possible to infer that Henry Thoreau warned future generation against the corrosive effect of money and power. Evidently, being under misapprehension and having distorted picture of the reality and spiritual values, people change their convictions as well as worldview. There is an old proverb stating that when you want to spoil somebody, just give him an access to power. Such a dangerous tool always defines the level of person’s intelligence, because genuinely clever people, who achieve their goals, are likely use the benefits for a greater cause, while others, less conscious, will probably immerse in luxury life ignoring inner force and mind that strive for meaningful ideas.
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The second instance seeks to explain changing psychology of an individual in the light of fame as one of the inseparable aspects of wealth. Thinking about young people who become celebrities or attain higher status, one may note that fame often causes superiority complex in individuals, especially those related to show business. Consequently, they tend to dismiss previous social connections thinking that those people have not reached their level. Initially, artists, singers, and actors aim to contribute to the development of modern art introducing new genres and producing meaningful songs, films, or paintings. However, frequently, being subjected to a negative influence of fame, they can engage in bad habits as well as illegitimate actions, ceasing to write insightful songs or produce exceptional pieces of art.. Specifically, in the 1990s, mass media were full of stories about drug-dependent stars, and, thus, an increase in the number of addicted teenagers became a prime concern of the local governments. To exemplify, presumably, Michael Jackson’s addiction destroyed his life and deeply affected his career (CNN, 2013). Millions of his fans duplicated singer’s behavior and became involved in drugs, which caused stagnation of culture and retarded the development of pop music. Moreover, Michael Jackson changed his persuasions and principles when he became famous and rich. Originally, he wanted to write songs that would revolutionize the world of music. However, the negative side of fame had changed his worldview and, consequently, it negatively affected teenage culture. Obviously, dramatic stories about stars are in demand among readers who tend to worship their idols and follow their lead. . As a result, it fosters a new culture of leading a careless lifestyle , and, prosperous celebrities often adversely affect their fans.
Applying the abovementioned example to the Thoreau’s quotation, it becomes evident that when a person aims to become popular and further rich, they are likely to deviate from the commonly accepted social beliefs and ideals succumbing to fleeting pleasures of money, power, or fame. Unfortunately, sometimes, such persuasions are misleading; however, it is difficult for the individual, who is on the wrong track, to return to the original ideas, views, and ambitions. After gaining recognition and money, a celebrity invents new methods of self-identification, which is marked by the changes in patterns of behavior as well as convictions, and, the individual tries to rebuild their own psychology in order to be influential and superior. In an attempt to achieve popularity, this person crosses the limit of accepted norms and undermines common cultural values. Alternatively, if the celebrity followed the initial beliefs and goals aimed at developing music culture and popularizing their principles through songs, it would inculcate a sense of integrity or perseverance into their followers. In conclusion, keeping to the original ideas and ambitions is a desirable code of conduct for any rich person. While it is almost impossible to eliminate negative trends in the cultural development, famous people can considerably reduce them and become role models for others in a positive sense.
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Application of the Quotation in Present Times
In the recent years, the world has witnesses a new trend among wealthy people. It is called altruism and is associated with donations that a rich person makes to the social programs that include education, medicine, sports, and arts. In such a way, prosperous individuals show their affinity with ordinary people and readiness to help. Possibly, they began their own life paths as average employees dreaming about high-paid jobs. At that time, they cherished genuine moral values. Consequently, in case the altruists donate their money for the sake of the well-being of society after becoming rich, they continue realizing their initial vision, i.e. “carry out” those “schemes” they had previously. Hence, such activity positively influences the culture and fosters its diversification.
Another form of altruism is financial patronage. Having achieved success and made enough money, so called patrons finance the spheres of social life in which talented individuals cannot develop their skills because of lack of money. As a result, the people who obtained financial aid from the altruists will thankfully plant the same beliefs and values in minds of others, thereby contributing to cultural and moral progress of society.
Usage of the Quotation in the Future
Thinking about further application of the citation, it is essential to consider the ways of upbringing of the future generations. It is vital to educate our children and grandchildren on the authentic morals and basic principles of integrity. Particularly, in every family, parents have to devote more time to their own children and attempt to raise them according to accepted moral standards. This way, when a child becomes mature and wealthy, they will continue disseminating the spiritual values of their mother and father. Overall, Thoreau’s words are not only thought-provoking but also relevant and didactic.
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In conclusion, the quotation in question revolves around the people who have changed their social status and try to substitute earlier accepted moral beliefs with an endless list of aspirations of wealthy men. However, it does not mean that society should condemn all rich people. As an alternative, successful businessmen and politicians may help others by granting some financial backing to humanitarian aids. Conforming to the key moral norms, the altruists do not search for any advantage of giving money to somebody; they simply contribute to a greater cause and become happier about helping others.