Henry David Thoreau wrote “Resistance to Civil Government or Civil Disobedience“, in 1846 but this essay is going to stay a timeless one, especially now.
If it Contradicts with your Morals, Refuse to do it…..
Thoreau argues that if a government is not doing what is necessary to do and is corrupt ( he deems government the main cause of corruption) , instead of going along and doing what you’re supposed to do (Jack Kerouac touches on it in “On the Road” as well), do something about it. Whether it is refusing to pay taxes, or quitting your government job, partaking in civil disobedience or doing something, to voice your frustrations is what Thoreau tries to advocate.
He touches on a story of himself , which is an account of him being jailed after refusing to pay his taxes instead of supporting the war that could bring about slavery into Mexico, an experience he describes as life changing. I think this experience might have compelled him to write “Civil Disobedience”.
How Civil Disobedience Influenced Doctor King, and India’s Gandhi
Both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, were influenced by this particular work of Thoreau, with Gandhi describing Thoreau as a wise, practical man whom never advocated something that he wouldn’t have done.
Doctor King also praises him on his civil disobedience of refusing to pay taxes (obviously the context of slavery interested him more).
Both leaders used such tactic, and encouraged their large follower base to do so as well. History shows that it worked. Even though Martin Luther king and Gandhi both were assassinated, but the legacy of what they did and their tactics in doing so is still hugely influential today.
The Importance of Unity in Civil Disobedience
What I believe, in terms of our modern age, is that without unity civil disobedience would never work. For instance, in the case of refusing to pay taxes, it wouldn’t really make a difference if one person would just refuse to pay his/her tax, what matters is when thousands of people would follow suit and stop paying their taxes, that’s gonna make a difference. That way the government cannot name the two or three folks who’d do it as ” small bunch of trouble makers”.
It is with unity that fundamental changes happen , a brief look at history of revolutions and such points out to it. Now , and with the current state of things, it is important for like minded people to get together and partake in civil disobedience.
I would definitely recommend anyone interested in making a change to take a look at this essay and read it thoroughly , since we need more and more people to read this sorts of seemingly forgotten, but important documents. As always I would welcome your opinion on this essay, and if you haven just started it I’d be more than glad to hear your thoughts on it.
P.S: I have also put the audio version of this essay, for those of you who don’t have the time to read it.