The Relevance of Thoreau in the Modern Era

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Thoreau’s experiment of living in a tiny cabin at the edge of Walden Pond for two years proved that human beings can get by quite well with possessing on the mere essentials. In a culture of increasing complexity and excess, I think it’s time to heed the words of Thoreau and bring it back to basics. You can only go so far in one direction until you inevitably hit a peak and have to go back down the opposite way. The consumer society that we are living in will only remain feasible for a limited amount of time before we exhaust all of our resources.

From what I have analyzed, the basic cycle of consumerism is as follows. Work your ass off at a job you probably hate so that you can make more money. Spend your money on things you don’t really need but somehow think will fill up that unending void within yourself. Constantly find yourself in further and further debt and because of this end up working even more.

I think that Thoreau would roll over in his grave if he was witness to the dismal state that America and most of the world has fallen into. Thoreau himself usually ended up working about a total of 3 weeks during the course of a year and was still totally self sufficient. This is because he had barely any expenses. He built his own cabin, grew most of his own food, and required no “fluff” to live a happy and contented life. Instead of wasting his life away with the drudgery of wage slavery, he spent the bulk of his time outdoors hiking and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Now obviously, mirroring the exact lifestyle of Thoreau is probably a little extreme and unfeasible for most people today. However, I think extracting his core message and applying it to whatever situation we are in will be sufficient. I’m just saying make due with less and live more efficiently. Don’t fall victim needing “the latest and greatest” gadget to feel like you are worth a damn.


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