Comments on Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

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Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Thoreau's essay entitled "Civil Disobedience" i was an excellent way of educating the public on why people should not settle for a less than perfect government. His belief in demanding a better government was a great reminder that Thomas Jefferson insisted that it was our "duty, to throw off"(2) an unsatisfactory government in the "Declaration of Independence" ii Thoreau's essay also explained why people choose not to do anything about it. Thoreau stated that people "cannot spare the protection of the existing government, and they dread the consequences to their property and families of disobedience to it" (25). So it makes sense that most people would not be willing to risk losing their property, family, or their life. However, we should not feel this way because Jefferson also stated that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed."(2) Jefferson then went on and stated "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government" (2). It is not as if people do not have problems with the government. We protest the same things that Thoreau did: paying for wars, services that we personally do not use, corruption in our government, etc. Yet our society today does not use productive means to invoke our "Right of the People" and demand a "better government". There are people who actually do choose to abide by some of Thoreau's suggestions for dealing with our government. Many people refuse to pay taxes. Jefferson did claim that "imposing taxes on us without our Consent"(19) was grounds for a request for new government. Is there actual anyone who enjoys paying taxes? Thoreau did not have a problem with paying "for no particular item in the tax-bill"(36). He just did not want to show "allegiance to the State"(36). He believed that he did not join the "incorporated society"(25) that is the State so why should he pay its debts. The people who refuse to pay today simply prefer to keep their money. So according to Jefferson, that is technically ok. There are others who truly believe that there is a need for an improved government.

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