This country was founded on the premise of a concientious society where men and women would act in the name of God and for the good of the people that squares with moral law. Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. , in their respective times, pointed out in lectures and in writings that we have strayed from our moral and just society to one filled with immoral and unjustness to a degree that violates our religion and our conscience. We do not live in a civil society nor does our government have a conscience that does not exceed the limits of our founding fathers declarations.
We live in anarchy. We live in a society ruled by a dictatorship know as a democracy pretending to be a republicy ruling over blind citizens more appropriately refered to as slaves. We are those slaves. In the play Antigone, the woman believed that the power of the gods was greater than the power of any king. If she obeyed the king, she would have disobeyed the stronger power of the gods which could have had more of a devastating result on her than that of the king. This play was written thousands of years ago in a far more simpler time than that of Thoreau or Martin Luther King Jr. et shows that even then, unjust laws existed that contridicted their religion and their conscience.
Unjust laws existed from the dawn of mankind when God told Adam not to eat the Forbidden Fruit. Adam perceived this to be unjust and so he ate the apple giving life to what we now see today. This is a bad example as what we think is unjust goes against the word of God yet what Adam thought was unjust was the word of God, but the example still works. “Just” and “unjust” are evolving words like that of the word “love”. What people precieved love to be 100 hundred years ago is not what it is precieved today.
Their meanings are very much the same, but their “perceptions” are quite different and evolving everyday! Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. , in their repective times, were pioneers of seeing what just and unjust laws and actions were taking place in their time and making a difference because of them. Should they be set apart from the masses because not only did they recognize these unjust doings, but made a point to do something about them, yes, but they are not pioneers in this thinking, this philosophy so to speak.
I believe that since the dawn of mankind, we have been exposed to such things of unjustness and that people of Thoreaus and MLK Jr. ‘s thought and conscience have been around forever. Now that the history of such philosophies have been discussed, allow me to represent each in a civil society. There are several reasons that have made me believe that it is morally justifiable in breaking the law; however the most convincing comes from Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal… ” (A World Of Ideas 160).
King went on in his letter to say that it would be against man made law to help a Jew in Nazi Germany. What King said in his letter was to make a person think that not all laws are good for a certain group in society and morality is a justifiable excuse in breaking those laws. Those who oppose my view on this question may be quick to ask me how come we go by law and not morality in society. I have a roommate with the complete opposite view on this question. He explained himself this way: Human nature consists of three basic components. These are to live, propagate, and to dominate.
If humanity was left without any other parameters, this natural state of existence would govern its behavior. Fortunately there are parameters, and they are laws. (Mosier) What this basically says is that laws are made up to maintain order, monitor actions, and work for the best interest of society as a whole. If their were no laws chaos and anarchy would be widespread. This is why society has set up governments. To maintain order and to give us safety. If this is so, then why are there and have there been “unjust” laws? When Dr. King said that he would aid a Jew in Nazi Germany, he said so knowing that he would be breaking German law.
He would be doing it because it is right and in the best interests of the masses and not the man made laws. Some would call MLK Jr. ‘s actions as “civil disobedience”. What actually MLK Jr. would be doing is helping and giving comfort to victims of an unjust and wrongful law. Can there be any wrong doing in that; especially since it is in the publics best interest, to maintain order and safety? Civil disobedience is both a right and the responsibility of a person to fight an unjust law. People make decisions everyday inaccordance with God’s laws or the governments laws. They make a choice between the two, and they go with it.
It’s decided upon according to what they believe is right. Our conscience and in that conscience what we think is just and unjust, evolves with time and with society. Each and everyday you wake up, something you thought was wrong is now not so wrong and something you thought was right is not so right anymore. This is true with everyone and everything. Henery David Thoreaus Civil Disobedience, he makes a good point with, Why does it (government) not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults and do better than it would have them? (A World Of Ideas 143).
He just restates what the government is based on, checks and balances, that society changes and the government needs to recognize this constant change! It took hundreds and thousands of years for people to realize that slavery was unjust and unlawfull, but it happened and now that it has we see slavery in a new light. Woman struggled to gain the god given rights they’ve had since Adam gave his rib for their creation for just as long as slavery existed if not a bit longer. Now we see woman as an equal human being and not as a female form. Can you imagine in twenty years from now what we think is just now is thought of as unjust then?
I can, income tax. Actually I already do!! When do we have religious rights? More appropriately, when do we not have these rights? Our founding fathers took precise measures to protect our God given religious rights in the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights! These documents mean little to nothing to our current government.
The First Amendment of the Constitution reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble… yet we can no longer pray in our schools and for some time could not carry with us a bible to class. “Meet Me At The Flag Pole” was started just a few years ago as a way to gather christians together at school in a day of worship. Once a year hundreds of students before and after class congrigate to their schools flag pole for a prayer. When this started, many students were suspended, but as the word grew, so did the masses and so did the tolerance along with the school boards across americas conscience.
Now this day is know throughout many schools and in many banners are displayed recognizing this day. Thoreau also stated, “It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corportion of contientious men is a coporation with a conscience”(A World Of Ideas 144), absolutely explains why society is evolving, unjust changes to just and right becomes wrong. Yet, with the multitude of changes in society, each and everyday new unjust laws and measures arise for someone to knock down. Call it civil disobedience, or more like government disobedience… I call it a conspiracy!!