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The Power Of One Civil Disobedience

1466 words - 6 pages

Power of One
Growing up, our parents have always told us to obey authoritative figures without hesitation or question. This has made people believe that conflict is a horrible thing and should be avoided at all costs. Many of the greatest protestors would be very disappointed with this way of thinking. Many issues go unnoticed because change cannot occur without a problem being stated. Mahatma Gandhi explains, "No big or swift movements can be carried on without bold risks and life will not be worth living if it is not attended with large risks" (605). Civil disobedience is the right of every citizen, and is thereby encouraged by some of our greatest leaders. It may be hard to take the ...view middle of the document...

He disagreed with what the government was doing and knew the only way to make change had to be by his own doing; he did not plan on stopping until he saw that change.
Discrimination was a huge problem in the 1800s, especially for women because, it restricted their right to vote and be employed. If by some miracle women did get into the workplace they did not get equal pay and were not treated equally. Susan B. Anthony, a great female protestor who was familiar with Thoreau’s work, did not want to stand for this and decided to break this unjust way of thinking. Though she knew it was illegal, she voted anyways in hopes to make a statement that women are just as superior as men. She was outraged when she was arrested and received a $100 fine and wrote a complaint back to the judge. In her letter, Anthony wrote,
May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock in trade I possess is a $10,000 debt, incurred by publishing my paper — The Revolution — four years ago, the sole object of which was to educate all women to do precisely as I have done, rebel against your man-made, unjust, unconstitutional forms of law, that tax, fine, imprison and hang women, while they deny them the right of representation in the government; and I shall work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, that “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God” (81-5).
Her statement was heard and eventually women were motivated to stop this way of thinking and discrimination became a thing of the past.
Gandhi is another example of someone who chose to act. Influenced by Thoreau’s work, he believed that freedom of speech could not be taken away from any human being. Gandhi says, "I wish I could persuade everybody that civil disobedience is the inherent right of a citizen. He dare not give it up without ceasing to be a man" (605). He also had his own theories on civil disobedience and decided to state his opinion in a much different way. Instead of buying British-made goods such as salt and cloth, he decided to harvest his own salt and cotton to make his own goods. At this point in time, it was illegal to manufacture your own goods and use them for your own discretion. This, however, was the statement he wanted to make. Gandhi explains, "An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment” (144). Gandhi knew what he was doing was wrong and was willing to pay the price. His fear was not going to jail, but merely watching the world being corrupt around him. He, like so many others wanted to make a statement to the world that anyone...

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