Martin Luther King And Civil Disobedience

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Socrates was one of the first philosophers that is seen attempting to enforce a change in his society for the better. Martin Luther King, Jr. points this out in a letter that he wrote while he was in jail for protesting his rights without a permit; in fact, King goes as far to say that Socrates is civilly disobedient. This is a contreversal statement because King was participating in a much different form of civil disobedience than Socrates, by breaking unjust laws. Often this can cause an issue of what the requirements of civil disobedience truly are. King’s way of pursuing civil disobedience seems to be the normality in which society tends to view it. He breaks the unjust laws that are put against him and uses peaceful protests as a way of instilling change. Socrates on the other hand never has broken a law and goes about his civil disobedience by breaking societal norms. The differences between Socrates and King may be large, but this does not discount one from another. According to Martin Luther King, Jr., civil disobedience, in cases of injustice, is truly called for in order to create a just society. It is an action done in order to draw attention to a specific unjust situation, law, or societal norm. The most important aspect is that, whatever action being taken is done with the intention of making society better. This is shown when King states that civil disobedience must happen because “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”(Letter 35). In his specific case, the injustice against the African American community has direct negative effects, but also has positive effects and privledges for those who are white in the society. An example of these privledges include being able to vote without taking a literacy... ... middle of paper ... ...s, but to break the social code in order for him to demonstrate his civil disobedience. Identifying differences in the societies that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Socrates lived in, and their own personal goals, is essential to concluding whether Socrates was truly civilly disobedient. Even though Socrates does not believe in breaking the laws, this does not mean that he was not civilly disobedient. This is because breaking the laws is dependent on whether the issue is with the societal code or the social code. Socrates proved that if you have an issue with something in the society other than the laws, you can still be civilly disobedient by not following what you seem to have an issue with, and also by trying to fix it. One is not bond to only care about the immediate laws and attempting to change them, but one can also care about the culture or societal norms.
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