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Civil Disobedience: The True Revolution

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"Civil Disobedience: The True Revolution"

St. Augustine once said, "an unjust law is no law at all" (Helmer, When can we break an unjust law?). Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws" (Letter from a Birmingham Jail). Henry David Thoreau once said, "Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them" (Civil Disobedience). All three of these people have had a capital effect on the modern world's ideas of civil disobedience. How can a man of the fifth century have the same ideas as men of the 19th and 20th century? An idea, a theory, a philosophy is immortal, and it will live on after the sage offers the ideas and dies. One man can come up with the idea, but how his idea lives on after he passes, determines his greatness. Thoreau's ideas and philosophies have lived on for over a century through Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mohandas Ghandi. In Henry David Thoreau's famous essay "Civil Disobedience", his ideas and philosophies such as a limited government system, the right to resistance, and an individual's conscience and morality stemmed from St. Augustine, and lived through Mohandas Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Nelson Mandela was one of the world's greatest political leaders and he used Thoreau's ideas and philosophies. Mandela believed in an idea of limited government like Thoreau. Ghandi also influenced Mandela in the way he approached the apartheid in South Africa. During Mandela's 27 year prison sentence, he wrote the autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and it was published in 1955. His autobiography focused on his early life, childhood and education. Mandela believed that all government should have the set foundation as his village did in the Transkei. "There were no classes, no rich or poor...All men were free and equal and this was the foundation of government" said Mandela at his 1962 trial for inciting a strike among African workers and leaving the country without a passport ("Mandela's Democracy"). Thoreau believed in the idea of a limited government; he believed that government should be self-governed, meaning everyone's voice was heard and there were little to no interruptions during meetings. Nelson Mandela still lives today and agrees with Thoreau's philosophy that the government may believe it is expedient, but it is truly inexpedient.

Mohandas Ghandi lived 78 years and lived them to the fullest. He was shot in the chest by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948. Ghandi had been a great believer in civil disobedience and non-violence; he also strong believed in the right to resistance. Ghandi's first feat happened on a stagecoach where he refused to give up his seat, like Rosa Parks did in 1955. Ghandi was beaten and from that point on he vowed to fight against social injustice. While in jail, he read Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and it changed his life immensely. Ghandi created the term Satyagraha, or Soul Force. He created this as a strategy to discourage the oppressor from his unjust practices through nonviolent protests and Ghandi believed this would make the oppressor see the error of his ways. In 1930, Ghandi organized a march in attempt to extinguish the salt tax, which led them to modest results and another term in jail. Every time Ghandi used civil disobedience, he would earn himself another prison sentence; however, a small price he had to pay for his full message to get across. He prided himself in the idea of nonviolence, civil disobedience, and the right to resistance. Ghandi earned himself the name "mahatma" meaning great soul and influenced other leaders in civil disobedience



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