Though Socrates and Martin Luther King, Jr. taught in separate eras of history, the difficulty in properly approaching political dissent was one of great importance to both. Indeed, as will be explored throughout this essay, both men held such a notion to be a necessary qualification for any healthy society. As we will encounter, the settings within each account, as outlined in Socrates' Crito, and Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, are strikingly similar in comparison. While this may have led to a degree of congruence between the arguments of both men, their drastic contrast in opinion concerning the appropriate method by which to carry out an act of political protest must be given sufficient attention. Indeed, while the two men share a similar drive towards promoting political protest, their definition of the concept seems to have differed to a high degree. In comparing and contrasting these historically consequential opinions, we can better understand the various methods by which an act of political objection may be committed, and we may also reason as to how both methods are applicable in their own right.
To begin, Socrates and King each spend time in prison within their works, with King in the Birmingham Jail and Socrates residing in a Greek prison. Not only were they imprisoned, but both men also refuse to give up their arguments in exchange for their escape. Thus, it may be stated, that each man is imprisoned because he is in pursuit of a betterment of society, and the powers at be feel their vision of society to be in conflict with the prisoner's own. In addition, both men are aware that they may be illegally freed through a variety of activities, with King noting that many of his followers proceeded to follow him to Birmingham, and Crito ensuring Socrates that assistance in his escape was "at no great cost." Perhaps, these three situational commonalities (that of imprisonment, pursuit of a better society, and the ability to...
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