Ralph Waldo Emerson

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.

In high school English, my class read Emerson's essay Self Reliance. Our teacher was someone infamous for making students struggle through the long, dense essay. It wasn't exactly a popular piece. However, it made a lasting impact on me. Emerson advocated being your own person. His essay encouraged the reader to rely on himself and act without regard to what others might think of you. Not only that, but Emerson declared that you should live your principles with fervor, even if they are the result of a recent change in heart.
     A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

He thought that it was ok to contradict the opinions of yesterday's you, if you had good reason to see things in a new light. Emerson would not have voted along party lines; he would have voted for candidates from each party according to the powers of the office they were running for, the balance of the Senate/House, and the person themselves.

Emerson believed that each of us should search ourselves to find our "true nature" and that what we learned in the process should be proclaimed. He warned that by ignoring the true self and accepting the beliefs of others without analyzing these principles ourselves we are no more than children who know not what we do.
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he.
Emerson made some controversial statements which I don't aspire to. But his belief in the pursuit of personal truths, and declaring these truths, is the inspiration for (at least the more substantial) posts in this blog.

I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.... truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, — else it is none.