Disobeying a law naturally seems counter-intuitive to fixing a problem. This idea is very Socratic in nature. Socrates believed that it was a great disservice to the state to follow laws that were unjust. “I was attached to this city by the god . . . as upon a great and noble horse (the state in this case) which was sluggish because of its size and needed to be stirred up by a kind of gadfly” (Apology, 30e, Plato). According to Socrates, “pursing virtue and truth in the name of the state” (Apology, 42a Plato) is necessary and actions such as civil disobedience are also necessary in order to find that virtue and truth at times. Both King and Socrates were “gadflies” in the sense that they were willing to question and bring tension to laws that were unjust and needed to be changed. This tension brings along the willingness to fix the laws and make them just. Settling for a “negative
Imagine a world without those brave people who dared to not abide by the law and fight for a right. A world without Gandhi would be a world without independent India; without Mandela there would be white superiority in Africa; without freedom fighters, there would be no democracy in Nepal. I believe that all the actions of such law breakers are good, even though they were against various laws, and such actions can be justified to some extent. Even though laws are meant to maintain order and protect rights, it is not always justified; some might be unfair to minorities whereas others might stir up a revolution. Some just violate human rights. In such cases, civil disobedience
Any one can say that a law is unfair and unjust. However, who is really willing to accept the consequences for going against an unjust law? Is breaking this law really worth the punishment? The government is the one to decide whether a law is reasonable, but what if a member of the public believes that a law is not? Should he rebel against this law? Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. answered yes to this question and believed that one should speak out against an injustice. They both believed that government had many flaws. Even though they shared many beliefs in many of the same subjects concerning Civil Disobedience, they had many different
From the monarchs of the ancient era to the democracy of today, order has been maintained by means of rules and regulations known as laws. Compliance with these laws is enforced through punishments ranging in severity according to the crimes committed to reduce violence and misconduct from individuals within a society. However, just as citizens consent to abide by the laws of the state in which they reside, one is compelled to preserve justice and condemn the unjust decisions of man when the social contract contradicts the laws sanctioned by God. Approaching this conflict between natural and manmade laws in a non-violent manner is called “civil disobedience”.
In his famous essay, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,’’ Martin Luther King, Jr. cites conscience as a guide to obeying just laws and defying unjust laws. In the same way, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his famous essay, “Civil Disobedience,” that people should do what their conscience tells them and not obey unjust laws. The positions of the two writers are very close; they use a common theme of conscience, and they use a similar rhetorical appeal of ethos.
Criminal law is a construct of the government, enforced through tangible measures. In a democratic society, the government is elected by the citizens, and as such, laws are generally conceived with the aim to reflect whatever ethical or moral standards are presently acceptable. However, in order to be truly effective, some legislation must circumvent current sociological viewpoints in order to create laws that are genuinely in the best interests of society. This results in a delicate balancing act, as lawmakers attempt to weigh the views of the majority against the need for laws to be both reasoned and objective.
The main idea of civil disobedience is that citizens have the right and the obligation to challenge the laws of the state when they feel that the laws opposes certain superior ideals. Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates have different opinions towards civil disobedience and how they should react toward laws that are unfair. I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s tactic for civil disobedience just as I agree that steps must be taken to reform the laws that we find unjust. However, I do agree with Socrates on why we should follow the law but if no one ever challenged the laws then some old unjust laws would still be set in place today.
Civil disobedience is a form of resistance that many people have great respect for, and with good reason. Peaceful protest through the disobedience of law requires a dedication that most other action do not. To put your safety on the line the way Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. did requires resilience and bravery. Throughout history, people have responded to the call to be jailed, beaten, and even killed, without raising a finger to protect themselves, in the name of a just and righteous cause. I find this peculiar. Why would they do this? Many resisted unjust laws because they opposed tyranny but disdained violence. The early Christians are a prime example, “turning the other cheek” to the point of being fed to lions. As it turns
Have you ever felt a rule you had to follow was unjust? Have you ever felt your moral instinct tell you not to follow it? Prominent figures in American history, Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau, felt this way and decided to not follow the rules imposed on them by indulging in “civil disobedience”. Civil disobedience is the act of peacefully disobeying laws or customs with the purpose of combating moral injustice. This form of protest has proven to be quite effective in making change in history. In “Civil Disobedience” and the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, both Thoreau and King Jr. write their justification for their actions as well as their feelings regarding the particular disputed
Many great people have argued about civil disobediences and social injustices. Furthermore, not many realize the purpose of the system and what it means to its people and its country. Both Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr attempted to fight against the law if there is social injustices. Civil disobedience is as old as Prometheus’ disobedience of Zeus in order to give fire to mankind and Antigone’s defiance of Creon’s edict denying proper burial to her brother Polynices (Bedau). In other words, disobeying the law in a good cause.
Why would people go against law? Maybe it's going against his/her conscience or belief, or maybe the law(s) are presenting a danger, or maybe it's writing a “awesome essay”and voluntary writing it for fun (sarcasm). But referring to the Native Americans in North Dakota that fight against the building of a oil pipeline thru ancestral lands (Heim). In the greek play Antigone there is an issue with civil disobedience as well. it's right to disobey the law if it goes against one’s belief or way of life.It is one’s moral obligation to go against laws when they go against one's conscious.
I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. […] Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today
At an early age, most children are taught to obey the law. However, many children are also told to follow their conscience. Certain incidents can cause these views to conflict. According to figures like Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela, breaking the law is justified when one’s conscience dictates him or her to do so if it is for justice, freedom, and it is non-violent.
Even though King advocates for disobeying unjust laws and that unjust laws call for civil disobedience, Socrates believed all laws must be followed no matter what. Socrates states, “we
In any society encompassed by varying ideologies, change is inevitable. This inescapable component is one that results from an exposure to different truths and realities in life. As we are under the pressure of change, we tend to develop a certain set of beliefs and our comprehension of things are altered. In government, for example, what we perceive to be morally just is all dependent upon how the laws function. We must first understand the role of the government. Essentially, the government assumes the duty of serving the people. Those officials elected to serve are meant to represent the people. The elected are to set up laws for the community in which they serve, and are to enforce these laws. In losing sight of this basic function, there would not be an effective and fairly stable government; thereby creating stalemates and other barriers in the community. If in the event the people begin to be misrepresented and are being affected in some way by the law, the judgement of the law and those governing are questioned. More so, values are challenged and the people begin to realize they are not being guaranteed what should be, whether it be equality, civil rights, or so on. It goes straight to the fundamental ideas of morality. Is the law just and does it truly provide for the people? In cases of these injustices, who is held responsible? Does this responsibility eventually fall in the hands of the citizens? To what extent are the citizens capable of fighting these