Being a Good Citizen

Topics: Law, Henry David Thoreau, Citizenship Pages: 3 (955 words) Published: February 14, 2008
Does good citizenship necessitate following the laws despite some kind of injustice within them? Are good citizens obliged to blindly follow the government policies? It follows then, what is good citizenship? Henry David Thoreau provides an adequate definition of good citizenship within his essay, Civil Disobedience; Thoreau discusses certain characteristics of a good citizen. Examples of Thoreau's definition exist in both the ancient and contemporary culture. Sophocles describes Antigone as a good citizen by Thoreau's definition. Within the play, Antigone, Sophocles utilizes the character of Antigone to epitomize the proper role of citizens within a society. Currently in India, economic growth has given rise to the need for good citizens to help morally develop the growing country due to the government's mistreatment of its citizens. Good citizenship calls for members of society to act upon injustices; fine citizens perceive injustices within society and act in order to right unjust laws.

Good citizens transcend human institutions in order to achieve the greater good. These citizens will accomplish all that they possibly can to correct erroneous establishments in order to attain morality. Henry David Thoreau defines bad citizens as those who remain politically apathetic when they witness injustices within the legal system; said citizens may disagree with the policies of the government, but follow these laws regardless of proper morality or ethics. An individual who disagrees with certain taxes, but pays the taxes regardless of their own views exemplifies Thoreau's description of a bad citizen. These citizens do not act against the government and, as a result, the injustice remains evaded and unresolved. Thoreau describes government as a machine that continues in one path and calls for citizens to "let [their lives] be a counter-friction to stop the machine" (par. 18). Good citizenship denotes acting within one's abilities to rectify injustice in a legal...
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