After being arrested in Indiana, many criminal defendants find themselves soul-searching, wondering how they arrived at this situation. Others become despondent and have a difficult time moving forward with a positive attitude. If you’re struggling to deal with your arrest, you may find encouraging lessons from the famous “Self-Reliance” essay of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Give it a read– but here are three essential points to take from it.
1. Don’t worry about what other people think.
Emerson says: “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.” This statement embodies a critical lesson for those facing criminal charges. You have to make decisions that are right for you and your family, without worrying about what others may believe or want you to do. It’s easier said than done, but
2. Break with people who aren’t on the same path.
Sometimes people get in trouble with the law because they’ve tried to conform to other people’s ideas or associated with the wrong people. If these rings true to you, consider this quote from Emerson:
“I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you… If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own.”
Your arrest might be the perfect opportunity to start anew and make your life go in a different direction. But to do this, you must develop the strength to separate from those people who would hold you back.
3. Don’t cling to ideas or behaviors that don’t serve you.
One of the most renown lines of this essay reads: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” In other words, a person may hold tight to certain ideas or behaviors, even when there’s substantial indication that they’re wrong just for consistency’s sake.
For the criminal defendant, the message is: Don’t be afraid to change your way of being or how you look at a situation, even if it means altering a point of view you’ve held a long time. If you genuinely want to change your situation, you may need to change your ideas.