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The Power of One- Civil Disobedience

  • Date Submitted: 04/26/2012 07:49 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 66.3 
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Power of One
Growing up, our parents have always told us to obey authoritative figures without hesitation or question. This has made people believe that conflict is a horrible thing and should be avoided at all costs.   Many of the greatest protestors would be very disappointed with this way of thinking. Many issues go unnoticed because change cannot occur without a problem being stated.   Mahatma Gandhi explains, "No big or swift movements can be carried on without bold risks and life will not be worth living if it is not attended with large risks" (605). Civil disobedience is the right of every citizen, and is thereby encouraged by some of our greatest leaders. It may be hard to take the first initiative to stand out in the crowd, but once you do, you never know how many people in turn may follow your lead.
Henry David Thoreau is said to be the leader of the civil disobedience movement. He inspired many of the greatest protestors to use non-violent movements and to stand up for their beliefs using civil disobedience.   Howard Zinn, writing about Thoreau, defines this as, “the deliberate violation of a law in pursuit of a social goal” (125-6). Thoreau did not believe in slavery, and his biggest social issue was the Mexican-American war. The gain of new land and territory was not acceptable to him and he decided to protest this war. Knowing that paying his poll taxes would fund a war he did not agree with, he decided to not pay them at all, and in turn was thrown into jail. Thoreau states, "The law is not to be respected merely because it is the law, but only because it is right and just. If unjust laws exist, civil disobedience is an effective way to oppose and change them" (par. 3). He had high hopes of making a statement that would influence others around him with his acts of rebellion. It is no wonder that Thoreau is thought to be the start to all civil disobedience. He disagreed with what the government was doing and knew the only way to make change had to be...

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