Thoreau and King

Topics: Civil disobedience, Nonviolence, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pages: 3 (1214 words) Published: July 17, 2013
Civil Disobedience:
Henry David Thoreau and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,
“Disobedience to be civil has to be open and nonviolent.” - Mahatma Gandhi Throughout history philosophers have played a key role in our society. Both Henry David Thoreau and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought forth their own ways of civil disobedience, in their belief that it was imperative to disobey unjust laws. Their thoughts manifested from ideas, to theories, and eventually lead to our society today. Civil disobedience in a pragmatic way is the act of a non-violent movement in order to enforce the change of certain laws to ensure equality for all. Dr. King explained in his quote “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, willingly to accept the punishment” (220). Nevertheless, on opposite ends of the spectrum, Thoreau implied an aggressive stance motivated by his own personal hate for the government but yet King used religion, supported by his charismatic ways of being gentle and apologetic. While King and Thoreau both believed in the use of civil disobedience to create change, they went about using civil disobedience in staggeringly different fashion. As stated by Dr. King in his letter from Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (214). Regarding this issue, King believed that all American communities are connected and that injustice in one community will affect other communities. Perhaps, one could deem injustice as a disease such as cancer that forms in one area then quickly spreading and eventually discombobulating the entire social infrastructure. Dr. King reshaped America’s social issues through a non-violent approach in distinction to boycotting buses in Montgomery to marching through Selma, King responded to unjust laws with civil disobedience and direct action. Dr. King’s stance on prejudice laws came from morality. Primarily using morality as a backbone in his argument, we would agree that it is wrong to foster...
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