The human race has a long history of disobedience, beginning in the early biblical texts with the story of Adam and Eve. There are also many examples of civil disobedience the permeate known human history that include various forms of civil disobedience, including mass exodus, boycott, strike, non-cooperation and conscientious objection. Henry David Thoreau was a pioneer of modern civil disobedience when he refused to pay a poll tax because he believed the money would be used to fund the Mexican War. As a result he was arrested and spent a night in jail and was released when a relative paid his tax. His night in jail resulted in his penning of the seminal literary work, Resistance to a Civil Government (Library of Congress, 2011). In it, he famously argued, "Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison (Thoreau, 1849). Thoreau seemed to be more of a conscientious objector rather than attempting to create any lasting political or legal change by his refusal to pay the poll tax.
Civil disobedience is an effort to reform the law by using channels outside the existing legal system. It assumes that the existing system is worthy of improving, rather than a revolutionary concept which assumes the need for a new system entirely (Tella, 2004).
Therefore, the need for civil disobedience arises when there exists a moral imperative to change, change cannot be had within the existing system and a sense of urgency exists where inaction creates a moral dilemma. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke eloquently of the "fierce urgency of now" in the immortal speech, I Have A Dream.
The key element of the question is how. How ha...
... middle of paper ...
...highest cost. As a result nonviolent civil disobedience is most effective.
Therefore, the question should not be how effective is a non-violent approach, but rather, how can we make a non-violent approach more effective, to bring about needed reforms faster and at a lower human cost.
Library of Congress. (2011). American Memory from the Library of Congress - Today in History: July 12. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/jul12.html
Moss, G., & Thomas, E. (2010). Moving on: the American people since 1945 (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Thoreau, H. D. (1849). On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/71/71-h/71-h.htm
Tella, M. J. (2004). Civil disobedience . Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Civil disobedience is the refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by the use of passive resistance or other nonviolent means. The use of nonviolence runs throughout history however the fusion of organized mass struggle and nonviolence is relatively new. The militant campaign for women’s suffrage in Britain included a variety of nonviolent tactics such as boycotts, noncooperation, limited property destruction, civil disobedience, mass marches and demonstrations.... [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]
1017 words (2.9 pages)
- Civil Disobedience is a deliberate violation against the law in order to invoke change against a government policy. Civil disobedience can come in the form of running a red light or j-walking, or in more noticeable methods such as riots. Coined by American author and poet Henry David Thoreau, the term has developed to define the act of disobeying a law one sees as unfit or unjust. Usually the purpose of civil disobedience is to gain public attention to a perceived injustice and appeal to or gain support from the public in a non-violent way.... [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]
913 words (2.6 pages)
- In “The Justification of Civil Disobedience”, John Rawls says that civil disobedience is done in a public setting and is usually a non-violent protest or act. It is done in a situation where arrest and punishment are expected and accepted without resistance. Each of Rawls key characteristics of civil disobedience helps justify why civil disobedience is consistent with respect for the law. The constitution itself gives every citizen the freedom of speech and therefore for those laws that people find unjust, the people of the nation have the right to speak up and try to have the law changed in order to benefit the public in the best way possible.... [tags: Law, Political philosophy, Civil disobedience]
2021 words (5.8 pages)
- For as long as there have been rulers, there has been disunity between rulers and ruled. Citizens have always found ways to show their disapproval of governmental decisions and demanded action. Civil Disobedience has existed since the ancient Greek . From Antigone's defiance of Creon over Ghandi's Salt march in India to the Occupy Movement. What does the aforementioned mean. Civil Disobedience, the term formulated by Henry David Thoreau, in his essay in 1848, to describe his refusal to pay the state poll tax, to fund the U.S.... [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]
1612 words (4.6 pages)
- Civil disobedience is defined as any form of defiance of the law which is seen as unjust and unfair. There are many forms of this disobedience such as riots, demonstrations, and as simple acts as speaking out. On the other hand, authority figures are sworn in to protect and uphold the word of the law. These authority figures are police officers, FBI agents and many other forms of authority. When it comes to upholding the word of the law these authority figures make no exception with civil disobedience.... [tags: Law, Civil disobedience, Martin Luther King, Jr.]
1041 words (3 pages)
- In 1848, David Thoreau addressed and lectured civil disobedience to the Concord Lyceum in response to his jail time related to his protest of slavery and the Mexican War. In his lecture, Thoreau expresses in the beginning “That government is best which governs least,” which sets the topic for the rest of the lecture, and is arguably the overall theme of his speech. He chastises American institutions and policies, attempting to expand his views to others. In addition, he advances his views to his audience by way of urgency, analyzing the misdeeds of the government while stressing the time-critical importance of civil disobedience.... [tags: Civil disobedience, Henry David Thoreau, Protest]
1646 words (4.7 pages)
- Civil disobedience has been around for a long time. In Bible times Christians would disobey laws that would go against their beliefs, such as the law that they couldn’t preach. (Acts 4) Christians still disobey laws in many countries that do not let them practice their faith, some end up in jail or killed. In the past in this country, Thoreau wrote an essay on Civil disobedience saying that people make the law and have a right to disobey unjust laws, to try and get those laws changed. Under British rule in India, the British were harshly oppressive and only interested in exploiting products from India for their own use, causing many Indians to become extremely poor.... [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]
577 words (1.6 pages)
- Abstract Civil disobedience is the term assigned to actions taken by individuals to sway public opinion about laws that individuals deem unfair or unjust. Actions taken are usually nonviolent, and can include sit-ins, mass demonstrations, picket lines, and marches. Citizens are acting on their consciences, demonstrating highly advanced moral reasoning skills. Generally, these advanced skills fall into Kohlberg’s Six Stages of Moral Development, Stage Five and Six in particular. Characteristics of civil disobedience include no expression of anger, no cursing or insults, no retaliation, and submission to punishment by law enforcement.... [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]
1516 words (4.3 pages)
- As individuals, people believe they are allowed to fully practice Thoreau’s idea of Civil Disobedience to a certain extent. Growing up in today’s society people dislike the government and all the lousy rules rules and laws they enforce society with. Everyone is different in society, who you are now is determined by who you were around while growing up. People usually decide after adolescence, if you want to do what’s considered the right or wrong thing, this falls into his idea of civil disobedience.... [tags: Law, Civil disobedience, Rosa Parks, Government]
1144 words (3.3 pages)
- Thoreau was once sent to jail for refusing to pay his taxes and I support this episode of civil disobedience as justified. Thoreau did not pay his taxes because he objected the use of the revenue to finance the Mexican War and enforcement of slavery laws. He did not request for his money to be used for the enforcement of slavery laws, therefore felt he had the right to protest and act out civil disobedience. Paul Harris defines civil disobedience as "an illegal, public, nonviolent, conscientiously motivated act of protest, done by someone who accepts the legitimacy of the legal and political systems and who submits to arrest and punishment" (2).... [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]
522 words (1.5 pages)