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The Value of Henry David Thoreau's Idea of “Civil Disobedience"

Introduction

Thoreau’s was a man who lived a free spirit life and in the most cases followed his conscience and heart. He did not mind on getting approval and praises from anyone. In the most cases, he did not want to compromise with social issues such as family, work, success, money, and fame. Although, his greatness was not recognized by fellow contemporaries through out his lifetime, he still remained a significant figure in England. He was not just a philosopher, but also a naturalist who treasured natural life simplicity. He supported the significance of disciplined living that encouraged good relationship with the environment and need for self-reliance. In his life, he advocated for successful living without materialism. He emphasized on the significance of abolishing slavery and expressed radical political ideas and concentrated on spiritual development of men.

Discussion

On analysis of the value of Thoreau's idea on civil disobedience, he commenced by appreciating the fact that the government was the last as far as governing was a concern. He proposed for the need to have the government acting more systematically and rapidly. Indeed, it is true that the government governs least, and when people in the entire society are ready for it, they may not complain at all. Individuals may claim that the government is at its best, but an expedient as this is always common with most of the governments. However, at times some governments may be inexpedient. There are several objections against the standing army that are weighty and have prevailed. This will finally be brought against the standing government because the standing army belongs to the government. The government is based on the citizens’ choice of individuals to act according to their will; however, such powers can be abused. The American government has a recent tradition that aims at transmitting itself without any impairment to posterity, but, in most cases it loses integrity. This happens because of lack of forces, and vitality by men towards fellow men. This appears like a wooden gun to the citizens. However, this may not be necessary as people need more complicated machinery to understand and feel satisfied with the government at hand. As a result, the government shows how men in the nation can be successfully imposed for their own advantage. In deed, this is excellent, and we must allow. However, the challenge arises when the government does not support enterprises that benefit its citizens. This does not allow for freedom in the country. It does not also allow for settlement in the West, and does not educate. The common character among the American people has facilitated all the accomplishment and could further enhance more if the government had nothing preventing this on its way. The government is an expedient where men may fain succeed by letting each other alone. In most cases, people state that when the government is most expedient, individuals may not be governed by the fact. If commerce and trade were not made of Indian-rubber, it would not have managed to go through obstacles imposed by legislators. On the other hand, in a situation where an individual was to judge these men based on effects due to their actions and not by their intention, it would be necessary to punish individuals or legislators who impose obstacles towards development.

Speaking as a practical citizen going to the contrary with no- government men, Thoreau would propose for a better government instead of running without one. It is essential to have a government despite the obstacles imposed instead of running a free state. According to Thoreau, he advocated for the need of having individuals who make known form of government that deserves respect and which works towards obtaining the desired respect. There are several reasons that explain why when power is at hand most people aim at prolonging the stay. One of the reasons is not because they may be doing what is right exclusively, but because they appear strong physically. However, it is worth nothing that a government that has the leadership of a majority in the most cases may not be based on justice. The greatest question in minds of a majority is whether it is not possible to have a government that allows a majority to decide on what is wrong or right. Such a government will have a majority deciding on questions of expediency only where applicable. It is also possible to have citizens resigning own conscience because of a legislator. Every citizen has a conscience; as a result, it is necessary to have men first before a subject. According to Thoreau, it is not in order to respect laws more than individual rights. People need to bear always in mind that it is vital to do whatever one feels is right at any time. It is true that a corporation may not have conscience, but one with conscientious men has conscience.

According to views of a majority, individuals who give themselves fully to fellow men are selfish and useless. On the other hand, those who give themselves partially are philanthropists and benefactors. All men understand the revolution right this is a right that enable individuals to refuse allegiance and resist the government when its inefficiencies are passionate and may not be possible to endure any longer. Although, people are aware of such revolution, they claim that it may not be possible currently; instead, they claim that it was the case in the 75s. For people now, to claim that the form of government was unacceptable as it taxed some foreign commodities may not be rational. It is irrational to embrace a nation that has a majority of its citizens as refugees and slaves. It is high time that honest men in such nations come up straight forward and rebel while advocating for revolution. This should be urgent, because the overrun country is not ours, but instead, the invading army are ours. It is only by God’s grace that governments undergo a revolution without inconveniences; this enables such government to be established and be obeyed. In situations where this principle is admitted, cases of resistance are reduced. Most of the reform opponents of in Massachusetts are farmers and merchants. While those who advocate for such reforms are the southern politicians.

Voting is a game in most of the nations that do not emphasize on the rights of its citizens, because most of the voters characters are not staked. In most situations, voters think right, but do not show that in their vote. This is evident by the ability of a minority to leave an issue to the views of the majority. A wise man should not let a right to the mercies of chances. In this case, it is not wise to leave an issue under the mercies of the majority. This is necessary, because there is little virtue and action of masses. It is only at the time when a majority shall vote at length that slavery shall be abolished, because they may be indifferent to slavery. In other words, this could be due to little action concerning slavery is left for abolition based on their vote. In situations where a majority do not vote against slavery, they will always remain slaves of their own. Therefore, it is worth noting that it is only their vote that facilitate slavery abolition and ensures assertion of freedom. In a few months, there was a convention held at Baltimore, this aimed at ensuring the selection of the right presidential candidate that could ensure that citizens rights were considered. The greatest challenge is how this may be perceived by intelligent, independent, and respectable men. In addition, we are not sure on whether we shall benefit from such honesty and wisdom. The question of serious concern in the mind of Thoreau is whether it is possible to count on independent votes. Although, conventions to scrutinize presidential candidates were held, it may not be successful, because there are several individuals within the county who do not attend such functions.

Conclusion

Finally, Thoreau states that he is willing to submit to the government authorities and will be cheerful and obedient to individuals or leaders who can do better than he does. He is against leaders that suppress rights of minority just with the excuses of giving way to a majority. He states that to be just as a leader it is necessary to have the consent and sanction of those governed. At times, rights of the minority may not be of immense importance to others, but it is essential to respect. Indeed, democracy has been embraced in most of the states, but it is necessary to consider views of the minority, as well. Most of the leaders once elected to office go ahead to do what only pleases them without putting the minority into consideration. On the other hand, citizens should elect leaders who are capable of demonstrating good governance and ensuring justice to all. It is necessary to have individuals who make known form of government that deserves respect and which works towards obtaining the desired respect.