Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau Essay

Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau Essay

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“Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau was a means of educating people on why they should not settle for a less than perfect government. Thoreau’s work is a reminder that it is our duty to throw off an unsatisfactory government, as stated by Thomas Jefferson in the “Declaration of Independence.” Civil Disobedience touches on the subject of why people choose to do nothing about a government they are unhappy with. People fear the consequences they might suffer if they do interfere with the current government.
Thoreau stated people "cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it" (Thoreau 681). Therefore, most people would not try to change the government because they would be risking losing their property, family, or even their life. People may say that they do not have problems with the government as an excuse, but this is untrue. We tend to see the same problems that Thoreau did, which includes paying for wars, corruption in the government, etc. Even though Jefferson said that people should overthrow a government that is bad or that is not working correctly, people do not want to dramatically disrupt their lives and risk losing everything to do so. Our society today does not invoke the right of the people and insist on an improved government.
Some people in our society do take Thoreau’s advice and use some of his suggestions regarding the government. One instance is that Thoreau did not pay taxes because he refused to show an allegiance to the State. Following his example, some people in society today refuse to pay taxes. They feel it is unnecessary to pay for services they do not use or to pay for debt that they did ...


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...answers “It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscience men is a corporation with a conscience” (Thoreau 669). Using this method creates an interaction between the text and the reader and gives the reader no choice but to agree.
We know that someone strong is needed to face all of the risks involved with standing up to the government. However, we must decide what exactly we are standing up for. If we should have taxes, and who should pay them needs to be decided among many other things. It is certain that the millions of people trying to agree on these things never will, so should we defy the laws that we feel are unjust even after we reform the government? The only certainty is to follow Thoreau’s advice: “The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right” (Thoreau 669).

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