Free «Thoreau’s and Martin Luther’s Approach to Civil Resistance on Unjust Laws» Essay Sample

Both rights activists elaborate a definitive argument on insubordination of human rights during specified eras of societal injustice. As one may argue, they effectively illustrated their opinions on the importance of justice. Thoreau, in his fluent contemplation of life and its meaning, gives a deep and insightful analyzes on the conflicting relationship between the government and its subjects in relation to fair justice delivery. He considerately evokes the notion where majority are restrained by the government and society from making decisions with consideration to their conscience. Moreover, he argues that in order for people to realize their ethics and morals, they have to overcome the governments' rein. On the other hand, King, eloquently and passionately contends the injustice, unfair treatment and discrimination towards Blacks. Even though Thoreau successfully accentuates his main concerns in his argument, his effectiveness in persuasion, appeals and street demonstrations, it is in line in comparison to that of King's.

To begin with, Thoreau and King agree on the same position citizens should take in retaliation to unfair laws, since their goals were the same. One-- a man should consult his conscience before defying the laws they consider unjust and two, while disobeying the law one should be ready to face the consequences. Thoreau in his argument wrote that Civil Disobedience was less likely to change the minds of southerners. In dealing with justice as it relates to government, he comments "not at once no government, but at once a better government." King contends that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In consideration to the principles guiding the two, in support of their emotions, both use biblical illusions. However, despite their similarity in goals as stated above, both differed in their theories and reasoning behind their acts. In King's letter he believes that everyone, despite their locality, live together in one community.

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As he tells his fellow Clergymen, "You can't say that whatever happens in Atlanta does not affect you in Birmingham. If there is an injustice in Atlanta it affects you in Birmingham and is a threat everywhere no matter who you are. On liberty he says "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." King also believes that no one is weak and unimportant and that everyone has a role in the community. No matter how small of a job he has, if he doesn't perform his obligations the community fails to achieve its goals.

Thoreau goes deep into the jail issues unlike King simply because King's letters' main objective was to give an address concerning the statement made by the eight white Alabama clergymen titled 'A Call For Unity,' while Thoreau was mainly writing about his experiences in jail upon his release. Having been jailed for failure to pay poll tax due to slavery and Mexico war, he asked, "What was the purpose of every man having a conscience?" He answers, "The purpose that every man has a conscience was to decide for themselves what they thought as just or unjust and to act on behalf on that conscience versus obey the laws blindly. People are scared to stand up against the law and face repercussions single handedly, said Thoreau, but rather majority wait till they see every one has opposed the laws, so as to state their stand too. Imploring people not to be scared of the repercussions and stand up to unjust laws he stated that 'if standing up for injustice means you have to stand against the government then it is justified.' This way he explains in depth an individuals' responsibility towards ones' self: this way one has integrity. King believed that it was the right of every American to stand up for an injustice even if it did not affect your immediate community and that an injustice to any American was an injustice to all Americas.

To add weight to the seriousness of the issue he advocated for direct practice of the action. Comparing between the two men's point of thoughts, one can hardly draw any major differences concerning their approach to justice and human rights.


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