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In Henry David Thoreau’s “Life Without Principle,” Thoreau talks about separating ourselves from society as a whole and living life according to our own standards, not society’s. I believe that Thoreau’s thesis statement is, “If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for.” Thoreau speaks of the ways people earn their living and the many trivial things people will do just to get more money. He believes that we should not get caught up in the ways of money and society.
Personally I agree with the points that Thoreau makes in “Life Without Principle.” After all, what is the point of having money if you are not happy? Today, society paints an image of what the perfect life should be. However, the reality is that the average person would never achieve that portrayed lifestyle. Yet, people still strive to accomplish it. People work day in and day out, some methods more controversial than others, to make more and more money. At the end of the day, are those people truly happy?
I believe that wealth does not equate to happiness. If all I have is one hundred dollars in my bank account, I am no less happy than when I have a thousand dollars in my account. Don’t get me wrong; money is a nice thing to have, and a very fun thing to spend. However, material things are just that, material. I would much rather spend money hanging out with my friends or taking a trip with my family than buying a two hundred dollar pair of shoes. Material things wear out, but memories last a lifetime.
I believe that this mindset would be achievable in an ideal world. One in which no one truly cared about what others or society in general thought about them; a world in which we did not base our happiness on our bank accounts. But we do, and it is a very sad thing. Which is why from a generational standpoint, Thoreau’s ideas/beliefs in “Life Without Principle,”
We live in a society in which everyone has principles. However, not everyone’s principles are the same. We all come from different backgrounds, religions, and families and each of those aspects influence what each of our principles may or may not be. I do not believe that my generation would ever fully agree with Thoreau’s thesis statement. We are a generation that is constantly competing against one another, and constantly wanting the newest versions of things. For example, I know many people who just bought the Samsung galaxy s6, but are already waiting for the s7 to be released so they can bye it. For no other reason than to say that they have the newest phone.
Social media and television play a large role in this also. We spend so much time wanting to be just like our favorite celebrities, and wanting to have what they have. We forget to stay true to ourselves, and do what we enjoy doing. It is for those reasons that although I agree with Thoreau, that my generation would never be able to achieve his ideal way of living one’s life.
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