Essay about Civil Disobedience

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The political concepts of justice and how a society should be governed have dominated literature through out human history. The concept of peacefully resisting laws set by a governing force can be first be depicted in the world of the Ancient Greeks in the works of Sophocles and actions of Socrates. This popular idea has developed over the centuries and is commonly known today as civil disobedience. Due to the works of Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. civil disobedience is a well-known political action to Americans; first in the application against slavery and second in the application against segregation. Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” and King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are the leading arguments in defining …show more content…

Thoreau makes that evident in the following quote from his essay: “There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery… who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to [it]; who, esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets, and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing; and even postpone the question of freedom to the question of free-trade…” (Thoreau, 270). Thoreau demands civil disobedience from his fellow countryman to correct the errors of the government in regards to slavery and the war of his time. Thoreau defines this concept as a deed of willful resistance, obtained by disobeying the hypocritical laws. One deed he offers his countrymen to consider as their deed of civil disobedience, is a refusal to pay taxes. Another deed, one Thoreau highly recommends, is to avert oneself from conspiring with the government in refusing to actively participate in it. Most importantly civil disobedience is civil. Meaning that the resistance to the government is peaceful and non-violent in it’s methods. King’s work in civil disobedience seems to be in agreement with Thoreau in regarding civil disobedience as a duty of his fellow countrymen. King demands justice for the African Americans in the civil rights movement of the 1960s in his letter. King’s famous line to call the people out to demand justice from the government, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” (Schulke,

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