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    An Overview of Life in America and the Philosophy of Kindness

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    There are three traits necessary to live a great life in America. One trait is to live with kindness, to ourselves and others. Another is to live with faith, whether a greater being or ourselves. And lastly, we must live with simplicity.

    A great life is one with kindness. As Edwards said, we “must not speak evil of anyone” (Edwards 1) and doing to “never amounts to real good” (Edwards 1). Speaking unkindly of someone doesn’t usually get you anywhere, because people tend to dislike you as a person. “The Rivers are our brothers…So you must give the rives the kindness that you would give any brother.” (Seattle 2). We have to treat our brothers – family, friends, peers – without aggression or anger, because we would not appreciate said behavior to ourselves.

    “Begin where you are and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought, go about doing good.” (Thoreau 65). Instead of try to be worth more, just plan to live your life with kindness and everything will fall together. And if we aren’t shown kindness, it can cause us to be envious of others, hindering a great life. “Often did I think I think many inhabitants of the deep much more happy than myself. I envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished I could change my condition for theirs.” (Equiano 1).

    Another trait to a great life is faith, either in yourself or a deity. “When we find ourselves “tangled” (Taylor 1), we have a higher power to “break [us from] the cord” (Taylor 1). We can enjoy the better things in life because we have a higher power to guide us. “Saying, “Father, who makes it snow?” And I told of the good All-father Who cares for us here below… I remembered the gradual patience That fell from that cloud-like snow,Flake by flake, healing and hiding The scar of our deep-plunged woe.” (Lowell 1). Even during great sadness, if we have enough faith, our higher power will fix our sadness and let us continue to live a good life. “There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast – The desert and illimitable air – Lone wandering, but not lost.” (Bryant 1). If we ever feel lost in life, our faith in a deity can let us live without fear.

    And lastly, in order to live a good life in America, we need simplicity! As Ben Franklin said, we must “Avoid extremes; forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.” (Franklin 1). Live as simply as you can, and if you live without people getting you down, you’ll live a successful life. “Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores.” (Thoreau 52). If we can forget our problems we can live our life to the fullest potential. We don’t need “riches” (Irving 5) or “great sums of money” (Irving 5) to lead our lives, we just need to be simple of we will ruin ourselves. “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” (Oliver 1).

    If we stopped trying to be better all the time and learned to be simple and love, we could live comfortably. “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity! Simplicity! Simplicity!” (Thoreau 112). Too much detail in our lives causes us to worry more and live less. We don’t need to be surrounded by material items or try to be something we are not to live a good life. All we need to do is be kind, live with faith, and not let detail get the best of us. These are what make a great life in America.

    Works Cited

    • Bryant, William C. To a Waterfowl. N.p.: North American Review, 1818. Print.
    • Edwards, Jonathan. Introduction. Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.
    • Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. N.p.: n.p., 1789. Print.
    • Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
    • Irving, Washington. The Devil and Tom Walker. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
    • Lowell, James R. The First Snowfall. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
    • Oliver, Mary. Wild Geese. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
    • Seattle, Chief. “CHIEF SEATTLE’S LETTER.” CHIEF SEATTLE’S LETTER. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2013.
    • Taylor, Edward. Upon a Spider Catching a Fly. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
    • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Boston: Beacon, 1997. Print.

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