Comparison: Civil Disobedience Any one can say that a law is unfair and unjust. However, who is really willing to accept the consequences for going against his law? Is breaking this law really worth the punishment? The government is the one to decide whether a law is reasonable, but what if a member of the public believes that a law is not? Should he rebel against this law? Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. answered yes to this question and believed that one should speak out against an injustice. They both believed that government had many flaws. Even though they shared many beliefs in many of the same subjects concerning Civil Disobedience, they had many different views on how the government should work and how the citizen should be treated by society. Both Martin Luther King Jr.
and Thoreau believed that one should act out against an unjust law by means of peaceful protest. If one is going to openly express his ideas of disagreeing with an unjust law, he must be willing to accept the consequences. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Thoreau demonstrated this acceptance of consequences by going to jail without repercussion. This shows that they truly believed in the eradication of such a law that forces them to do something that they do not want to do. Martin Luther King Jr.
wanted was arrested for gathering with others to protest peacefully, which the police claimed was unlawful, because they were parading without a permit. Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully went to the county jail and served his time. Thoreau was arrested for not paying a tax, a tax that put a fee on voting.
Thoreau also peacefully served his time. Both men knew the consequences for their actions, yet went along and committed the crime. Their crimes were not vengeful or harmful against a living soul. However, their crimes were statements stating that the government cannot make anyone goes against his or her beliefs. Martin Luther King and Henry David Thoreau both believed that one should stand up for what he believes in, as wells as accepting the consequences for his actions. Even though they also had different views about what makes law just or unjust.
First of all, Martin Luther King believed that a law that is just should be square with the moral law or the law of God. This basically means a law should pertain to the Ten Commandments according to the bible. He also thought an unjust law was one that was inflicted on to a minority who did not even have the right to vote for this law in the first place. Thoreau is basically rallying for the absence of government in the lives of the citizens.
He believed that everyone should govern himself. He also believed that no one should have to ride on the shoulders of the government, but instead rely on himself. He thought people should treat other people the way they wanted to be treated, and follow the natural laws of society. Martin Luther King Jr. believed there should be laws or it would be total anarchy. Thoreau believed that without the government, every one would naturally treat others as if that person was a neighbor.
Thoreau thought that individuals, who were too egotistic and were too easily corrupted, ruled the government. Also, their social thoughts were different as well. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to change unjust laws, not just for him, but also for his fellow brothers and sisters.
He cared about what his people were going through. He had compassion about their suffering and hardship and would not tolerate it any longer. It seems that contrary to Martin Luther King's motives, Thoreau was selfish. He simply did not want to follow a law because it affected him in an adverse way. He was somewhat of a loner, and thought everyone should be independent, instead of acting like parasites, feeding off one another. Both of these men's work was considered to be Civil Disobedience.
However, their peers judge them differently due to their different circumstances. First of all, Martin Luther King was black and Thoreau was white. Since they were of different races, and were living before a time when people have more many right. Since Thoreau was white, one can assume that he was treated better when he was arrested, than when Martin Luther King when he was arrested. Thoreau only spent one night in jail for not paying taxes. Martin Luther King serves a sentence, which is usually longer than a day, for a peaceful protest.
Not paying taxes seems a lot more incriminating than having a peaceful gathering. However, the laws have changed considerably since the time of Thoreau. Despite this, there still was a double standard that people of different races had to deal with. The answer the to question whether one should disobey an unjust law is yes. One should stand up for what he believes in, and not have anyone else dictate to him what is right or wrong by passing unjust laws.
According to the U. S. Constitution, one has the right of free speech; the ability to speak out against a law that he believes is morally unjust. People should not be treated differently because of their race, color, or beliefs. Laws should not be passed that impose bad intentions upon certain groups. In conclusion, one should have the right to question their authority if the authority has passed an immorally just law, especially if it openly represses the rights and liberties of the citizens..