“Civil Disobedience”, a short story written by Henry David Thoreau, is a novel written about the early stages of the American government and policies Thoreau believed they should follow.Although this document was written in 1846 all of the points that Thoreau makes are still valid today.Thoreau was a strong supporter of the common man; he didn’t believe that an all-powerful government could be effective.He worried about a strong government encroaching in on the lives of the people that it serves.
His concerns were that those who would take power would be liable to “abuse or pervert” the authority that they are trusted with.Today’s modern government is doing many of the same things that Thoreau warned about one hundred and fifty five years ago, yet many citizens of today’s society seem generally unconcerned. A government cannot steal the freedom which Americans have fought and died for. Thoreau was a man who believed firmly in the rights of the individual.
His idea of an effective government was one that didn’t interfere to heavily in ones life, “I heartily accept the motto that government is best which governs least; and I should like to see acted more rapidly and systematically.”(Thoreau 380)In his eyes the government was only a mode in which the people had chosen to execute their will.
Claiming, “It doesn’t keep this country free. It doesn’t settle the West, It doesn’t educate”. (381)The people of the country are responsible for keeping everything running, the government is just their way of staying organized.
Citizens should control the government, the government shouldn’t control the citizens. Thoreau never wanted to see people taken advantage of by their own government body.
Many strong points made in “Civil Disobedience” pertain to the operations of the American Government towards individual’s freedom.
The focal point for my explanation on Civil Disobedience will be “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written by Mr. Martin Luther Kings Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” “Any law the degrades a person in order to inflate another person to some perceived superiority” “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntary given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” These just three of the many notable lines Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his well-known and recognized “Letter from the Birmingham jail”.
The letter written in response to the fellow clergymen after they stated that his parading was untimely and unwise. They went on to call him and instigator. Mr. King was a leader in the African American movement to change the segregated south. Invoking a tactic know as Civil Disobedience, Civil disobedience originated as a Concord Lyceum lecture delivered by Henry David Thoreau on January 26, 1848.This disobedience is form of protest where people violate a laws they consider unjust.
The civil part of the tactic is just that, civil, not violet. Mohandas K Gandhi used the same set of tactic to gain independence of India from the British. Mr. King called the laws of the segregated south unjust because he felt that they did not square themselves with the moral code of the time. He went on in his letter to further break down the steps need to carryout a non-violent campaign.
First, there would be a collection of the facts to determine whether injustices were alive. Two, there would be negotiation, to try and squeal the matter peacefully. Three, there would be self-purification, holding workshops on non-violence, and for four direct action. The direct non-violent action came in the form of boycotts, marches, and refusal of services.