Civil Disobedience

Henry David Thoreau may be most known for his lonely stint at Walden
Pond, but he also wrote many essays commenting on his times.He wrote
“Civil Disobedience” in 1849, and it is quite clear the essay has had a
strong influence on a wide variety of politicians and leaders.First, the
definition of civil disobedience must be explored.One writer called civil
disobedience “A paradigm case of civil disobedience is an action that is
conscientious and illegal but also both non-violent and ‘public’–which is
to say, for one, that the civil disobedient accepts some societal
punishment for breaking the law” (Meyer 69).Thus, civil disobedience is
usually a public action that is non-violent, but gauged to involve the
public, so they understand just what the reason is for the disobedience in
thefirst place.For example, an act of civil disobedience today could be
an act such as the people who moved into tree houses in old growth forests,
which kept logging companies from cutting down some of the oldest trees in
the forest.The action became quite public, eventually saved the trees,
and was a non-violent gesture against the lumber companies and their
practices.This is an example of civil disobedience at its’ best.
Thoreau completely believed in the usefulness of civil disobedience in
all its forms, and urged readers to let their feelings be known about their
government if they wanted things to change.He wrote, “Let every man make
known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be
one step toward obtaining it” (Thoreau 48).Thoreau advocates civil
disobedience as a form of political protest, and he advocates taking a
sharp look at laws before blinding following them.He states, “Law never
made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the
well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice” (Thoreau 48).
Clearly, he sees th…

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