One can't say no when it comes to reading Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apart from being sheer joy, his writings help one fathom deeper into the meaning and purpose of life. All that glitters and all that charms you are distractions that do not allow you to delve into the essence of life.
In life, the American essayist says, one should be as silent as possible. Why? Don't you realise gods are perfect, and they are all silent! Silence is a solvent, says Emerson, that destroys personality and gives us leave to be great and universal. The meaning of great here is not occupying high positions of power and wealth; its correct meaning is to be in a position to be a true loving and caring person; a person who believes in action rather than in talking and boasting.
And who can be a universal person? One who sees in others his own self and identity. One who tirelessly, ceaselessly and unselfishly pursues his/her aims in life so that his/her efforts make a difference in others' lives.
We are the only beings with intelligence on this earth and as such we are not expected to while away a lifetime but to make efforts and leave a world better than the one we inherited. As British thinker James Strachey had said, let us build a society, a civilisation where we see nothing but unity based on the bond of mankind. Because, "civilisation is a process whose purpose is to combine single human individuals, and after that families, and then races, people and nations, into one great unity — the unity of mankind."
But we are far from achieving unity of mankind; and to that extent, it is a collective failure on the part of all of us who inhabit this beautiful planet. Our ever-ballooning-out egos, our selfish motives and our myopic outlook have led us to a blind alley where we are caught in a struggle for mere survival. We have long lost our human face and conscience and the devil gleefully resides within us.
It is time to think how the devil could be displaced!