Thoreau Today

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Thoreau believed that there were two ways to counter injustice; smashing the head of the man who perpetuates injustice and get your own head smashed in the process, or through the method of satyagraha. Thoreau was an avid believer of civil disobedience and going against unjust rules. Two of the subjects he touches upon is how majority rule is always prioritized, and how there is such an unjust system or set of laws. In America, both of these conditions are present. Therefore, if he were alive today, America would be the exact type of government that he’d go against and judge harshly. To begin, America is all about majority vote. Thoreau is against this, stating, “When the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right…but because they are physically the strongest.” (McDougal Littell Literature, page 384). Voting and the majority decide everything, and as Thoreau stated, this does not necessarily mean they are closer to being right. Surely if he were to criticize our form of government, this would be one of the things he’d focus on. Whenever someone of office is chosen or a new law is proposed, elections take place to find which option gets the greater preference. Rather than deciding on a decision through some other process, the choice is placed upon the majority that agrees to one thing. Another concept that Thoreau speaks against is our attitude to go against unjust laws. Most people abide by the law, even if they don’t agree. Thoreau is serious when he says to oppose these unfair rules and refuse to follow them. In a personal story he even tells of a time where he spent a night in jail due to his refusal to pay poll tax. “If it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law” (page 385). Thoreau boldly states that if a law asks you to perform an injustice, simply break it. His...
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