Mark Tully assesses Henry David Thoreau’s influence, 150 years after his death.
Advocate of the simple life, champion of emancipation, and fervent opponent of government interference in the lives of citizens, Thoreau’s 19th century ideals have inspired civil rights leaders from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King.
He is also much revered in mindfulness circles for his belief in simplicity and the presence of spirituality in nature; a philosophy woven throughout his books and essays.
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
You can listen to the programme by clicking on the following link Something Understood – Henry David Thoreau
The programme lasts 30 minutes. It’s available only until 11.59pm, Sunday 13th May. I hope you enjoy it.
Image courtesy of timhettler