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Bringing About Change In Society Essay

1260 words - 6 pages

Bringing About Changes in Society
Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. were two American men who were key leaders during very controversial times in U.S. history, and they were instrumental in movements that will continue to influence history for years to come. Jefferson’s goal in “The Declaration of Independence” was to force a separation of the colonies from Great Britain and to create a new government in the United States. King’s goal in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was to show that change is necessary and can be facilitated through the breaking of certain laws that are morally wrong or unjust. In “The Declaration of Independence,” Jefferson states that the ...view middle of the document...

Actions taken by King and other member of his organization included sit-ins, marches, and boycotts of certain stores and restaurants. King states that “nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue” (King 217). King intends to create panic within the community to cause tension among everyone in the community. He believes that this tension will force discussions between local government that will end the segregation and race-related problems that he and others in his organization were facing.
Both “The Declaration of Independence” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” want to break the unjust laws which are responsible for the problems that they were fighting against, either violently or peacefully. “The Declaration of Independence” describes an unjust law as something that violates a person’s “inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Jefferson 53). Jefferson says that whenever any law violates these inalienable rights of man, then the government should be repealed and changed. In the Declaration he states, “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness” (Jefferson 54). In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King asks for the people to ignore the laws that he felt were sinful and to violate the moral rules of Christianity. King writes the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a response to the eight clergymen who published a letter to the editor in the local newspaper, criticizing him for his breaking the law. King attempts to show in his letter that he and the clergymen are all on the same side by quoting famous theologians and saints. King quotes theologian Paul Tillich when he argued that “sin is separation” (219). King also compared himself to the Apostle Paul, stating that his mission was to spread the word to people even if they did not want to hear it, regardless of what it is about. King also referred to St. Thomas Aquinas: “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality” (218).
While both argue for changes that involve breaking the laws that they consider unjust, know there will be consequences for their actions. The changes that Jefferson and King are able to make...

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