I heard a man on the subway the other day say the world was just falling apart. From a certain perspective it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Where I live, crime and traffic skew an otherwise lovely day. Rents are rising, salaries decreasing, and national politics are utterly and frighteningly bizarre. It’s either unusually hot or unusually cold, and whether climate change or blatant discrimination or impediments to a calm daily life, it’s not a stretch to realize most of these problems are at the hands of we fallible humans.

One-hundred and eighty-some years ago the Transcendentalism movement gave forth a window on humanity that professed belief in the innate goodness of people and their capacity to trust themselves and their potential. This faith in humanity and in unity with the natural world was a commentary and reactive movement to what the Transcendentalists saw as a deficient society, particularly noting crimes against humanity such as the treatment of the Native Americans and the continued existence of slavery