Transcendentalism Wiki

Twentieth Century Events Influenced by Transcendentalism

2011 Egyptian Revolution

Hasni Mubarak became the president of Egypt following the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat. Mubarak and his National Democratic Party (NPR) maintained a one-party rule for 30 years because of a declared, continuous state of emergency. Under the state of emergency demonstrations were prohibited, newspapers were censored, personal communications were monitored, and indefinitely could be detained without a charge. People became tired of the lack of democracy, political suppression, which sometimes involved torture, corruption on all levels, an increase in poverty and unemployment, inflation, and educational deterioration.
Protests in Cairo
Protests started on January 25, 2011. The movement was started by the youth, people of all social classes without a distinct leader, party, or group. It united Muslims and Christians residing in the area. The demands of the people were the immediate resignation of President Mubarak, formation of a temporary people government without the NPR followed by transparent elections, termination of the emergency law and the release of detainees and demonstrators, punishment for people that were held accountable, and freedom of expression and rights.
Thousands took to the streets, the first protest since the 1970s. All demonstrations were peaceful. Twitter was used by organizers to coordinate protests, and the government responded by blocking it. This only enraged the citizens and brought increased national attention to the uprising.
Fires Set By Police
Egypt proceeded to block Facebook, and the riot police took to the streets. Hundreds were arrested and injured with batons and tear gas water cannons. The largest protests were planned for Friday. The government responded by blocking all Internet services and text messaging in the country. Protesters and journalists still found alternate ways of getting online and posting information. After a long silence, President Mubarak appeared on state television and announced he would be dismissing the government but not resigning.
Around 365 people have been killed and 5,500 wounded due to the violence. The protests saw a fierce clash between demonstrators and security forces. More than 24,000 Egyptian workers walked out of their jobs, defying the Supreme Council of the Armed forces. The protesters demanded the military hand power over to the civil government. Two weeks after the initial protest President Mubarak resigned. There is now a new hope for democracy and freedom.

This is an example of nonviolent resistance. The people saw a problem and knew it needed to be changed. Like Thoreau these people were willing to be imprisoned. They even took it a step further and took beatings. Some were even killed. In Thoreau's Civil Disobedience he stated, "The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right." The Egyptian people were stripped of their rights. They had a right to overthrow the government that was suppressing them. Thoreau says it is the duty of the people to do what they think is morally right. In fact, in places like these the right place for a just man is prison. The people banned together and made a point even if they have to suffer. They eventually got their point across and are working on installing a new and improved government.

For More Information:

Egypt: What Now?

Background of the Times

Muhammad Ali

"No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slave masters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end." —Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is a former American boxer and former three-time World Heavyweight Champion. As an amateur, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. His original name is Cassius Clay. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali, when he joined the Nation of Islam in 1964. Due to his beliefs he had a strong opposition to the Vietnam War, he refused to be conscripted by the U.S. Army. On August 23,1966, Muhammad Ali applied with the Selective Service for conscientious objector status on religious grounds. He was denied of the status. When he got his draft notice, he took a physical exam and cooperated until it was time to take the Army Oath. He refused, saying, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong." A month later an all-white jury found him guilty of draft evasion, and Ali was imprisoned. This led to the stripping of his boxing title and the suspension of his boxing license. He was not imprisoned, but did not box for nearly four years. Ali's willingness to speak out against racism and the affect it had on domestic and foreign policy earned him many supporters. His appeal finally made it up the the Supreme Court, where it was successful. He officially converted to Islam in 1975.

Muhammad Ali faced an injustice and fought it. He believed the Vietcong had done him no wrong, and he had faced more racial prejudice from "white slave masters". Not only was he imprisoned, he was stripped of his boxing license. His entire career and identify was based on his boxing license. Ali continued to fight. He gained support and used his dilemma to speak out against racism. The transcendentalist characteristic that is demonstrated here is standing up for what you believe in. Ali had a moral issue with fighting because of his religious background. He even tried reasoning with his draft selection by applying for conscientious objector, but he was denied. When asked to take the oath, Ali didn't lie or conform to what he didn't believe in. He simply stated I am not going to fight the Vietcong. This is an example of nonviolent resistance. Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, "Do not follow where the path my lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail. When Ali was stripped of all he knew, he didn't back down. He got back up and inspired a others to follow him and stand out against racism. Thoreau stated, "Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around." Believing in yourself and what you do is the groundwork on how to inspire others and become a leader.

For more information:


Ali's Official Website

Transcendentalism in Popular Culture

"Stand" by Rascal Flatts

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright, you'll be alright

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you

look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on


Every time you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place

[Repeat Chorus]

Rascal Flatts song demonstrates a lot of optimism and standing uo for what you believe in. This song is about facing the difficulties of life and being able to get back up. In Emerson's Self-Reliance he says, "Trust thyself." You have to do what you believe in. This relates to the lines, "Decide you've had enough; you get mad you get strong; wipe your hands shake it off." You rely on what you think is right, and then you make your statements and stand up for yourself." You learn to trust what you think and develop your opinions, which evolves into who you are. In Emerson's Self-Reliance he also states, "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." People may be pushed to their limits and "bent 'til they break", but the courageous get up and fight. A person may feel helpless or at a point where all the only way to go is down. Optimism is show in those who continue to get up and "Stand" even when the ending is bleak.

"It's My Life" by Bon Jovi it-s-my-life-bon-jovi-4284164.jpg

This ain't a song for the brokenhearted
No silent prayer for the faith departed
And I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd
You're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud

It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive

(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life

This is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina who never backed down
Tomorrow's getting harder, make no mistake
Luck ain't even lucky, gotta make your own breaks

It's my life
And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive
(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life

You better stand tall
When they're calling you out
Don't bend, don't break
Baby, don't back down

It's my life
It's now or never
'Cause I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive

(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive

(It's my life)
And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive

(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life!

This song demonstrates several transcendentalist qualities. Bon Jovi wrote about noncomformity, optimism, and self-reliance. "I just want to live my life alive." I think this is similar to Emerson's quote in Self-Reliance, "Imitation is suicide" and "Envy is ignorance". Both mean you have to be your own person and do what you want to do in life. Even if it means breaking away from the norms. It's your life. Live the way you want to live. The noncomformity comes in the line "I did it my way." Self-reliance and noncomforomity are all about standing your ground. This song is not for the weak-minded, the fearful, or the faithless. It's for the people who stand up for themselves even when times get rough. The optimism comes in when it's hard and knowing you're going to get through it. People don't live forever. It's about making the best of a situation while you're alive.

Works Cited

Bon Jovi, Jon; Martin, Max; Sambora, Richard S. "IT'S MY LIFE Lyrics - BON JOVI." Song Lyrics. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.

"Conformity Quotes, Sayings about Nonconformity, Thinking for Yourself, Peer Pressure." The Quote Garden - Quotes, Sayings, Quotations, Verses. N.p., 9 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Mar. 2011. < >.

Emerson, Waldo. "Self-Reliance." Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, Inc.: 1989. Print.

"It's My Life - Bon Jovi - Songs That Match My Mood." Hunch. Hunch Inc. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.

Kanalley, Craig. "Egypt Revolution 2011: A Complete Guide To The Unrest." Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Inc., 30 Jan. 2011. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.

"Muhammad Ali." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. <>.

Rascal Flatts. "RASCAL FLATTS LYRICS - Stand." A-Z Lyrics Universe., 2000-2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. < >.

Schladweiler, Kief. "Muhammad Ali." African-American Involvement in the Vietnam War. N.p. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. < >.

Thoreau, Henry David. "Thoreau's Civil Disobedience - with Annotated Text." The Thoreau Reader. Richard Lenat. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.

Todd. "Rascal Flatts Lyrics." Music Lyrics, Charts, Games, & More. N.p. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. <>.

"Youth Revolution of Egypt, 2011: Background." Scribd. Scribd Inc. Web. 09 Mar. 2011.

"YouTube - Music." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Youtube Inc. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <>.