Why We Are All Henry David Thoreau
<music> welcome to the history Dojo podcast. My name is tyler. Rust your host for the History Doj Oh podcast series and the writer researcher Historian and teacher in residence at History Dojo dot blog today. We're going to mark the birthday of Henry David Theroux who would have been two hundred two years old on July twelfth of this year. He was a writer philosopher and social <music> activists who forever changed the world. You may be familiar with Henry David thorough but today we're gonNa try to bring you a few things about him. You might not have no the the title of this podcast is why we are all Henry. David theroux P- This is the twenty first podcast in the history of Joe podcast series and it seems like just yesterday. We started this new already over twenty twenty episodes so we're <hes> we're really making some progress this podcast of why we are all Henry David throw is derived from the article that recently appeared on history Dojo dot law under the title three things about Henry. David Theroux did not know I wanNA share with you a comment that comes from Eric Eric. 'em wrote on his though Joe Dot log amazing stuff. I really enjoy your blog and your podcast. I've subscribed to your site kit weight from work. Thanks Eric. I'm glad you're enjoy the articles and podcasts we have at history Dodo dot blog. Subscribing is a great way to stay on top. 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Dot Com it features monthly storage <hes> for each of your podcasts and of you can link it up if you're doing of podcasting and logging like I am at wordpress through the power press plugging so let's get down to our subject for today's podcast why we are all Henry David Theroux so the three reasons. I'm really going to introduce you to today. I WANNA get to right up front and then I'll break them out over the course of our discussion in here the first reason why we're all Henry David throw is that Henry David throw was an anti hero in the sense that he was a hero who doesn't really look like act like or present himself as a hero. I'm sure he never thought of himself as heroic a he only thought of himself as truly his authentic self he didn't try to get other people to be like him in the sense that he lived his life as an an example of his own authenticity so in the sense of being a hero and leading by example yeah but he's not your caped crusader or your avengers on the big screen so that's the first one and David throw was an anti hero Kinda like all of us and Henry David throw the second thing. I'm GONNA show he was that he idolized a violent abolitionist known is John Brown and this may be not something that everyone immediately says is just like Henry David throw for themselves but in a sense the more you know about the violent abolitionist John Brown the more you probably would agree with what he did because because John Brown of course gave his life to try and stop the evils of American slavery something that I liked to believe Americans today would all give their life to to do slavery the more you know about what happened in American slavery the more you yourself would lay down your life to prevent that from continuing and I like to believe that America today is so violently anti-slavery hi slavery that we're all in a sense like John Brown and innocence therefore like Henry David Theroux so that's the second the third is that Henry David Theroux inspired both Gandhi the end Martin Luther King Junior to free millions of people from oppression to icons of world history. Gandhi and Martin Luther King are examples to all of us that I think we would all like to emulate Gandhi who helped to free India from British imperialism and the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Junior who showed us that there is a better way than living with breath society divided by race where all people can be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character these two icons of History Gandhi and King were both inspired by Henry David Thoreau and and I'll explain how that that happened and in that sense I I'd like to think that we're all a little bit like Henry David Theroux because I think we'd all like to believe that we have within us the qualities that both Gandhi and king inspired us to follow so here's a little bit more of the depth of a what we're going to talk about but I I wanted to just remind you that you are listening into the history DOJ podcast and my name is tyler. Rust your host for the history DOJ. Oh podcast series and today we're talking about why we are all John Brown sorry no. That's a different podcast. Sorry that if you're interested in hearing why we are all John Brown you should go to history Joe Dot blog where you can find that podcast. It's also available on spotify today. We're talking about why we are all Henry David Theroux this episode twenty one in History Dojo podcast series so <hes> if you're interested in reading the transcript or finding links to anything mentioned in today's show please go over to history Joe Dot log where you can read despite every word that is coming out of my mouth today so so here's a few more words heroes are always popular and often in short supply Henry. David Theroux may not at first appear to be a hero the these days we manufacture heroes in movies and pay homage to them in ticket sales heroes today are very different to the heroes from history and we might do well to reconsider heroes and heroism with respect those that history might offer to us frequently history offers US heroes in the form of conquerors kings. These are mistaken heroes. I think the Heroes Arrows that would impose power or unleashed death upon others are not the highest nor the truest form of heroes indeed. They should not be idolized those that would conquer. Kill and control for those that have abandoned the real power that all people have within themselves the power to serve and uplift the heroes that save rather than destroy who ponder rather than pillage are the icons to which history guides us if we bothered reflect upon the lessons of the lives of the heroes of history that empowered instructed us on how to better our lives ourselves and our times we can see that their example is one far more important to us because it continues to serve US longer than any any war or political era throw was an anti hero. Here's a quote from Henry David throw that I'd like to offer for your consideration. Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. One of the greatest examples of heroism comes to us as a person once called Henry David Theroux today we see him as a great man a great hero and a great American today today his life is viewed as one of exemplary living invaluable insight his writings have become seen as reasons for reflection on our own lives and insights into how we might better our enjoyment and serve others to do the same but it was not always so in his time throw was considered a lazy and unsuccessful man an embarrassment to his family and dependent on his mother there for care well into his adulthood. His career was unexceptional and even his most famous book Walden did not Garner much attention he was insured a reclusive and unexceptional man by the standards of his day not to be idolized or emulated Henry David theroux studied at Harvard College between eighteen thirty three eighteen thirty seven he lived in Hollis Hall at Harvard College and took courses in rhetoric classics philosophy mathematics and science. He was a member of the Institute of Seventeen in seventy now known as the hasty pudding club according to legend throw refused to pay the five dollar fee which was approximately one hundred twenty five dollars by our standards hundreds today. This was required for his Harvard diploma. In fact the master's degree he declined to purchase that no academic merit what's interesting about the rose that Harvard College College offered his degree to all graduates who quote proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating and they're saving earning or inheriting quality quality or condition having five dollars to give the college and quote so ensure the master's degree that was inferred conferred upon Henry David throw three years after graduating from Harvard was meaningless. It was really are you still alive and do you have five bucks. Now that's kind of ironic considering how highly regarded Harvard his today and to think that it was basically selling the masters degrees for the equivalent of about one hundred twenty five dollars in our money. Today is something that should give pause and reconsideration to the reputation. That Harvard seems to Bandy about today. Hey <hes> not to say that Henry. David throw didn't deserve <hes> respect and honor but at the time Harvard really didn't think much about anything more than getting a few extra dollars for itself to this thorough commented quote let every sheep keep its own skin and quote interesting reference. It's a reference to the to the tradition of using sheepskin Salem for the diplomas that Harvard would confer for a fee essense. He's basically saying your <hes>. Your degree is not worth the paper. It's printed on. I'd rather they just not kill the sheep in order to make make the diploma because it's meaningless so thorough basically through it back in their face now throw was not heroic in his appearance either. He was very very much a <hes> unusual looking person by the standards of the day he had a distinctive appearance with the knows that many called his quote most prominent feature then I've posted a picture of Henry David Thorough on history Dojo for you to take a look. He does have a quite a beautiful and prominent knows of his appearance and his disposition his friend Ellery channing wrote quote his face this once seen could not be forgotten. The features were quite marked the nose aquiline were very Roman like one of the portraits of Caesar more like a beak as it was said large overhanging browse above the deepest set blue eyes that could be seen in certain lights and in others gray is expressive of all shades of feeling but never a week or nearsighted the forehead not unusually broad or high full of concentrated energy and purpose the mouth with prominent lips pursed up with meaning and thought when silent and giving out when open with the most varied an unusual instructive seines. That's an interesting quote from Ellen Chancery Dylan channing who <hes> describes his how Oh unusual <hes> Henry David throw appeared so hero was something of an anti hero even by the standards of the nineteenth century not heroic in his demeanor nor in his appearance and certainly not successful will and <hes> in a role model to others however <hes> his rejection of the trappings of success made him an outcast in an oddity his writings on life lived deliberately deliberately were seen as backward his stoic intentions were borderline lunacy even with these countervailing winds blowing against him throw lived life according to a a set of strong principles embracing a simplicity that flew in the face of the artificial society of American High Class Life. He was very simply true to himself above all wow this makes heroic in that he lived what he believed because it brought him truth for no other reason than his own spiritual certainty throw deliberately chose a life that centered on him on what was important a connection connection to the spiritual and the divine. This is the History Doj Oh podcast my name is tyler. Rust your host host for history Dojo podcast and today we're talking about Henry David Theroux who would have enjoyed his two hundred and second birthday this month <hes> July twelfth and <hes> today's podcast which his number twenty one and the history Joe podcast series is entitled Why we are all Henry David Theroux. We've been talking a little bit about why Henry David Theroux like many of us are an anti hero who may not appear to be superhero like when I seen but within like we all have lies that capacity for heroism the row invented invented something that I wanNa talk about which I think you may be familiar with but maybe not familiar with the extent to which it makes him truly great and the extent to which were all connected to Henry David theroux throw invented civil disobedience. The lasting legacy of his message is evidence of these importance and his power indeed Henry. David throw may be one of the most powerful Americans to have ever lived Henry. David throws significant because he expanded human rights the philosophy of human rights to allow for nonviolent on civil disobedience there had never been anything like this before Henry David theroux formulated it expressed it and practiced it throw established nonviolent civil disobedience to empower the individual and to enhance citizenship. He did this through a means never before conceived refusal to obey legal authority. This new area of human rights was not included in the American Declaration of Independence which began turn un-american tradition of new human rights awareness and definition indeed in the declaration independence. There is a right to rebellion but only when the government becomes oppressive what Henry David Theroux Don's is he describes a moral imperative for. The individual to disobey a law that may not be tyrannical or oppressive but immoral its core this expands the power of every individual human being to obey or not ought depending upon their own moral compass allowing for the ultimate of individual freedom and giving justification and methods for which to express that freedom this is significant because it inspired others to follow his example. I do achieve great success. Through the methods of Henry David Theroux both Mahanta Mohandas Gandhi and Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Junior and Susan B.. Anthony were inspired by thorough and used nonviolent civil disobedience to free millions from legal and state tyranny. The question is not why I am in jail but y you are not in here with me. Henry David theroux developed his philosophy of nonviolent civil disobedience says part of his belief in the transcendental EST philosophy in throws view natural law was superior to the law of Nations and states. He explained quote under a government that imprisons prisons any unjustly the true place for a just man is also a prison. The example of this can be seen in a famous if possibly mythical story about the imprisonment of Henry David Theroux for tax evasion throw refuse to pay his taxes protesting the expansion of slavery through the Mexican American war this war was legally declared and the representatives representatives of the people legally voted to go to war with Mexico over false pretenses of course and ultimately this would lead to the expansion of slavery a moral crime yet a legal institution. Throw did not pay his taxes because he refused for to be a part of the immoral expansion of the Eagles of American slavery and while in the local prison this story goes his friend an ally Ralph Waldo Emmerson himself a famous American writer even at the time came to visit him knowing that Thoreau had the money to seek released from imprisonment Emerson asked him why he was still in jail. The row famously responded dear Emerson. The question is not why I am in jail but why you are not in here with me you see to throw the proper place to be was in jail when the law was improper and for Emerson to be standing outside of the jail implied he was somehow accepting of the impropriety of and immorality of American law obedience therefore to unjust laws is unjust and disobedience to injustice is obedience to the just throw placed man's moral law above the law of the state he he wrote for example quote. I think we should be men I and subjects afterwards and quote unlike the declaration which placed all men as equal under the law throw saw the natural moral law as superior and menu practice moral law were superior to legal restrictions therefore it was a moral and right act that a man should obey natural law. If it ever conflicted with the laws of governments this was a new and radical interpretation never before expressed throw created a new conception of moral law empowering the individual it superseded the social contract attractive Russo by appealing to an inner moral justice separating the diabolical from the divine even throw Oh new that his interpretation of natural human rights made it significant he wrote quote action from principle the perception and the performance of right changes things and relations it is essentially essentially revolutionary and does not consist holy with anything which was this meant that the row laid out with his philosophy but he laid out with his philosophy was a new radical break from the traditional understanding of human rights. He continued quote. It is not only it not only divides states and churches it divides families I it divides as the individual separating the diabolical in him from the divine. This meant that to follow this higher moral law in throws view elevated the follower to a higher higher transcendental existence obedience to one's own morality then became an example of moral righteousness when practice through nonviolent civil disobedience to divide the diabolical from the divine within the individual sounds fairly complicated. I admit and so let me explain if you were considering the evil of slavery you have to consider the benefits that slavery offered to the people all of the time the economic benefit the political benefit and the not the national benefit that slavery represented to the White Majority was intoxicating to for lack of a better term the very connie of the United States. The cities of the United States indeed the White House and the U._S.. Capital were all built on the backs of slavery the greater the greatest economy this country this world has ever seen is the product of a diabolical scheme known as American slavery and that is why issues about reparations and what to do about the evil of slavery continued a new to play this country because it is tempting to ignore the diabolical in favor of the benefits but when you separate the diabolical from the divine you see that it is only right light to address the evils of slavery and to fight against the temptation the benefits of that that it offers this is the history dodger podcast series. My name is Tyler Russ. I'm just break. You can hear very briefly and just tell you that you're listening to the history though Joe podcast. This is a podcast titled Y we are all John Why we are all Henry David Thoreau and we're talking a little bit about Whoa how Henry David theroux offered us something new something never before seen in human history known as nonviolent civil disobedience so let's get back to it now to ends of a chain Henry David the row road of this power in his admiration for the sacrifice of John Brown Brown who had led a raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry Virginia Yeah in hopes of emancipated slaves was someone who thorough Sauza righteous crusader living the moral calling all men feel within themselves and which most ignore quote some Eighteen Hundred Years Ago Christ was crucified this morning perchance Captain Brown was hung. These are two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He's not old brown any longer. He is an angel of light and quote that was Henry David Theroux who wrote about the execution of John Brown for the rate on harpers ferry and his admiration for John Brown tried to do indeed while John Brown was violent in his approach the higher calling the John Brown represented the moral crusade that John Brown unleashed could could be argued to sparked the American civil war which started just two years later and here you have Henry David theroux seeing this higher moral calling likening John Brown to Christ himself for sacrificing his life to throw John Brown was akin to Christ in his sacrifice for the greater good like Christ on the Cross. John Brown gave his life to save the world from a within the sin of slavery. This connection between Christ Brown and throw is the beginning of a longer chain of significance the chain of action from principal dividing the diabolical diabolical from the divine through his chain Brown marshals support from the spiritual and the secular the Deity and the doer throw inspired the liberation one of millions around the world submitting to beating without attempting defense significance can be measured by the impact or inspiration. Something has on others Mohandas. <music> Gandhi for example was inspired by throws writings about non-violence civil disobedience as a young lawyer in South Africa Gandhi used the teachings of Thoreau to start a campaign against the apartheid laws governing governing Indians and Africans later his example and teachings inspired Indians to use the rose philosophy to compel Great Britain to leave India after over nearly three hundred years of colonization throws philosophy inspired Gandhi to liberate millions from British rule without firing shot. It is not an overstatement therefore to say that more people I'll have experienced personal freedom because of Thoreau's philosophy then have ever been liberated in any war ever the radical power of throws philosophy can be seen through the example of Gandhi and his followers at the Dr Sano salt works in May of nineteen thirty as the journalist Web Miller reported on this action quote wrote the Western mind can grasp violence returned by violence can understand a fight but is I found perplexed and baffled by the site of men advancing coldly and deliberately and submitting to beating without attempting defense. Sometimes the scenes were so painful that I had to turn away momentarily this report effectively captures the power of the Rose Philosophy in action what Gandhi and his followers did the Darshana salt works in nineteen thirty was to demand entrance difference because they were legally blocked from making salt by the British government who wanted to tax the sale of salt for their own prophet salt of course is essential essential to human life and in a sense the British government was taxing life itself refusing to submit to this immoral taxation was shown by the refusal to stop invading the Darshana salt works men stepped forward in line stretching very far to be beaten one after or another I for taking that step after they were beaten another would step forward and after he was beaten yet another and again and again it was repeated as an example of how men men will never submit to unjust laws and without submission without obedience the law and the government loses any moral authority and becomes a tyranny any the moral clarity of the participants of the Darshana salt works the unity of purpose in the submission to suffer unjustly as an example of the futility of tyranny and the to the the futility of tyranny to oppress moral justice are all ideas throw pioneered in his philosophy on civil disobedience. Let your life be counter friction to stop the machine. The power of the Rose Philosophy influence the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Junior the example of Ghandi's liberation through nonviolence and the moral law teachings thorough combined to take action in kings effort to free African Americans from the tyranny of Jim Crow laws throw protested against St tyranny over Slavery Gandhi protested said British control over India in King protested over state laws upholding racial segregation King Road in his letter from Birmingham jail about obedience to unjust law quote any law that uplift human personality is just a new law that degrades human personality is unjust all segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul soul and damages the personality this means that laws which diminish manner not to be obeyed throw wrote quote if the injustice <hes> is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another then I say break the law. Let your life be counter friction to stop the machine. The row means obedience to unjust laws is wrong. Doc King took this admission to heart and made it made his life a counter to the injustice of white supremacy resistance to tyranny is obedience to God because of thorough moral justice became superior over legal justice. His idea is reflected in Susan B. Anthony who was sentenced to jail and undefined for Voting Susan B. Anthony nearly paraphrase the row at her sentencing by proclaiming quote. I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock and trade. I possess is a debt of ten thousand dollars incurred by publishing my paper the revolution the sole object of which was to educate all women to do precisely as I have done on rebel against your manmade unjust unconstitutional forms of law which tax fine imprison and hang women while the nine them the right of representation presentation in government and I shall earnestly and persistently continued to urge all women to the practical recognition of the Old Revolutionary Maxim Resistance to tyranny is obedience obedience to God in her civil disobedience Anthony and other suffragettes embraced the newfound moral freedom of the rose philosophy and advanced the rights of American women to vote and have a voice in American life. Their ultimate victory in the passage of the nineteenth amendment of the Constitution stands as a monument in law to the rose philosophy freedom within every heart every head and every hand the row is important for us to remember today his gift to the world was the ultimate freedom that lies within every heart every head and every hand his declaration of the simplicity of our collective power has moved more humans out of the darkness of state oppression and into the light of human freedom than any war ever ever waged more than any weapon ever fired throw deserves to be remembered for giving this gift of simple power to all mankind. He's often remembered more for living in a shack in the woods his important to remember not only how he lived but how he refused to live he placed value in spiritual freedom and human dignity. These are things we sometimes find in short supply in our present day we might will benefit from a little more civil disobedience in the name of personal dignity indeed it is not hard to see the followers of throw everywhere while his name is not invoked by the protesters shouting resist or the marches and social movement influencers of the Hashtag metoo movement. He is with them. You would smile at knowing that the culture of disobedience is alive and ringing bright in the hearts of Americans who are willing to disrupt the machine to make their lives the friction in the system that is unjust this has been the history though Oh Joe podcasts tyler rust and I hope you've enjoyed our discussion of the significance of Henry David Thoreau and hopefully you've learned a little bit more about how we all share in his legacy this gift to us as one that we can be proud to be part of as long as we choose to live our life with justice into refuse to live in except the benefits of diabolical polical systems there will be more from his Rideau Joe and I encourage you to come back and find out what we're going to do in the future we have blog posts and podcasts available every week at history though Joe Doc blog and you can follow us on facebook twitter instagram pinterest and subscribe to our blog posts in history though dot blog on spotify and on itunes please go to any one of those platforms it forms and leave a comment for us and if you go to itunes please leave a review of our podcast so that we can see how we're spreading the word and how how we might <hes> better serve. If you ever have a suggestion for a podcast that you would like to hear or blog poster led to read. Please feel free to contact history though Joe Dog Law really grateful that you took the time to listen to us today and I hope you'll come back again. Thank you so much.