Kakos' 4th Hour

Reactions and comments from my fourth hour Honors American Literature class.


My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Private Opinion

Please comment on one or both of the following quotations by Thoreau:

"Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate."

"Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost...Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures...they are only less young than they were."

To what extent do you agree or disagree with Thoreau? What questions do these statements raise?


Blogger lindzd said...

Thoreau has a lot on his mind that it seems to have so much more public thought on private business, so it rather indicates his fate along those lines, so I say at random. I'm not sure how old he was when he wrote about 'youth' and 'age' but he sounds like the past had nothing to give him for a future, do I sense some bitterness? Or is this just a sad observation that notes the day and age of his life at the moment? :)

4:53 PM  
Blogger meganJ said...

In some ways I certainly agree with what Thoreau has to say about the differences between age. I find more and more in this day and age that my parents and elders have little relevant information to offer me. They always say "that you know we were 16 once, we know what it was to be a kid", but Grandma and Grandpa that was nearly more than half a century ago!! With our fast paced times I find it hard to make connections between my life and parents lives. They can teach us their lessons and of their failures and when we encounter something similar we may recall upon it yet sadly I find that rarely happening. But it seems more and more today their warnings of "don't take candy from strangers" is nearly old fashioned - a good factor to remember, but with so many crazy people out there a stranger offering us candy is the least of our worries. I feel pitty for them and almost resentment for how fast technology has carried away our lives to more extreme levels so that elders once important advice is now at a loss to our generation.

7:53 PM  
Blogger KerryL1005 said...

Thoreau should have had more heart when he was saying the old were miserable failures. I know that I have learned alot from my elders in my family. They all have stories to tell and different life lessons to teach. Not only have they lived life, they have experienced hardships, lived through deaths in families, and war; yet they have come out to be successful people who have stories to tell and lessons to pass on from generation to generation. Did he ever think that his writing would be famous, and, one day, HE would be the old guy telling us about his ideas on government? I wonder what he would say to that. Does he think he is a miserable failure, now that his work is published and he is dead?

8:09 PM  
Blogger KaiaN said...

Megan- I'm totally with you about the whole adults not understanding thing because times really have changed and it IS very different. But I have gotten really amazing advice from youth leaders (Kapila, Jen, and Kristina) that actually was relevant. And yea, they're older than my parents, but I don't think their age makes them "miserable failures" because in my opinion they truly are very knowledgable and the ones who will admitt that times are different and that is probably is harder to be a teenager now seem to be a lot more helpful and understanding.

As for the first quote, how can a public opinion be both weak and a tyrant. For as long as I've known, a tyrant is a controlling and manipulating person/thing that usually isn't doing anything positive. Plus, I think sharing ideas and opinions opens peoples minds and creates new ways of thinking. What a person thinks of themselves does truly determine their fate and lives, but does not mean it can't be influenced along the way.

Notice that only girls have posted here.... haha.

8:49 PM  
Blogger JeffN said...

I agree ten fold with Thoreau's first statement. In reality, all we have is ourselves and what we truly believe in. When others try to take that away from us, they reduce us to nothing, literally nothing. When you don't make your own decisions, you are but a puppet in this game of life. So truly the only opinion that matters is yours. It matters not what others think of you, what others think of your opinions and what others think of your morals. But rather only what you think counts. And if you cannot see this, your fate is most certainly sealed, in my opinion of course!

7:48 AM  

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