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Strategic Concepts and Samples of Civil Disobedience

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From Antigone to Mills to Rousseau each writer has a different opinion when it comes to civil disobedience. The idea of politics and civil disobedience is very broad in everyone’s eyes. The government is in charge after being elected, however, that doesn’t give them the right to not listen to the wants and needs of the citizens in that country. The voices of the people are usually not taken into consideration so this may lead to civil disobedience. Civil disobedience based on Britannica is the “refusal to obey the demands or commands of a government or occupying power, without resorting to violence or active measures of opposition.” Furthermore, it can have positive and negative impacts as it has not only to help minorities with getting their rights protected, however, it also gains the attention of many and furthermore ensures fairness amongst everyone.

There are multiple types of civil disobedience and it has always been hard where the line should be as it is gray. Civil disobedience should be justified as it was beneficial in the past with events like in Antigone by Sophocles, the daughter of the former king gives her brother a proper burial even though she knows that she will be killed. Antigone is loyal to her family and the gods. Her justification for the burial is that no one is above the gods and that ‘because it was not Zeus who ordered it, Nor Justice, dweller with the nether gods…a mortal man could overbear the unchangeable unwritten code of Heaven. This is not of today and yesterday” (Sophocles 17). Moreover, she obeys her conscience rather than human laws. She was willing to get killed knowing that her brother had the burial he deserved.

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Henry David Thoreau, a well-known transcendentalist refuses to pay the state poll tax enforced by the government because it would fund a war and enforce a slave law. Due to this, he was arrested and one day in jail, and he decided to write the essay Civil Disobedience. He believes that what he thought was right instead of what the government thinks as the government with make rules that benefit themselves first rather than for others. Furthermore, he believes that one’s conscience is to be prioritized over the laws and that government is nothing but an idea that people choose to live by. Also, he believes the government is made to serve people when it is used as a way to gain power in his words. To him, the voice and opinion of the people are what matters the most as individualism is emphasized strongly in his work. People should be able to refuse to follow the law if they choose to. Since a person is born does not mean the person is obligated to devote their life. Thoreau encourages civil disobedience because it gives everyone a sense of rightness and moral conscience. This is because each individual is responsible for creating the society they want to live in. If there is anything a person wants to change or see change instead of waiting, they should act. Natural law, the laws that are not written for everyone, but the ones that are based on a person’s morals are more important.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist as well as a leader in the civil rights movement. In 1963 however, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and put in jail as he and others were protesting in Alabama. During his time in jail, he wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail, which was an open letter more directed to the white leaders of the south. He writes about the reason behind what they have been doing and his disagreements on what the whites are saying.

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