Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Civil Disobedience

Thoreau writes in Civil Disobedience, "I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward...The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right..." (250).

Do you agree with Thoreau? Do we have an obligation to disobey the law if we don't agree with it, and are the consequences worth the fight?

20 Comments:

Blogger Olivia C. said...

I strongly agree with Thoreau as the law may often disagree with what we as individuals feel is correct. In such a situation I do believe that the consequences are worth the fight as long as we as an individual wronged the law on the basis of following our morals and intuition. It is more important to do what we believe is right than to follow the law as the two are not always in accordance with one another. Sometimes doing what is right requires us to go against what others believe is politically or socially correct in which case it becomes severely important to follow what is right rather than let down our guard in fear of our personal safety.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

Like Olivia said, I agree with Thoreau. As human beings, we have an obligation to voice our objections to any laws we feel are morally unjust. However, it is important that when protesting such a law, one must accept the consequences of their actions. If the law truly is morally unjust, fighting against it will outweigh any costs associated with it. One should not be forced to comply with something that is causing any kind of harm to them or others in society.

4:46 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

I agree with Thoreau. Like Olivia and Michelle said, if we believe there is something wrong with the law we are entitled to change it or rebel against it, as long as you are willing to accept the consequences. On some cases, however, I'm not sure if the consequences or the effort of the fight itself are worth the fight, if that makes any sense. Many people try to fight certain corruptions, such as those in the government, but they've been going on for too long. I think they can be changed, but not by one person. I just don’t think there are enough people willing to make the change and acknowledge the commitment. This doesn’t go for everything, of course. One person can still make a huge difference.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

I agree with Thoreau if it is for a just cause. If people were to always follow the rules the world would be much different today. For the most part the consequences are definatley worth the fight. Even if one person disobeys the law it can spark an entire group of people to realize that the laws or way of life should be changed. It is in many ways the obligation of society to uphold their right to freedom and change because since the first civilizations began to arise people have always strived to have what they want.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

I sort of agree with Thoreau. Just because the law is there doesn't mean we have to follow it; however we don't have obligation to disobey the law. If you feel passionate enough about something, then you should rebel and do something about it. But just because you don't really want to do something doesn't mean you totally rebel against it.
I also agree with Allison about how in some cases, the consequences arent' worth the fight, especially if you aren't sure that your fight will change anything.

7:49 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

I disagree with Thoreau because I think that the law comes first before personal wants and pleasures. Although some laws may not be fair, the consequences are not even close to being worth the fight. It is not worth going to jail or getting in trouble with the law just so that you can change a law that you don't agree with. If everyone had the opportunity to make change and create laws as they please the world would become complete chaos and there would be no structure in life. Although there are some things that we may not want to do, it is sometimes benefical just to do them.

7:51 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

I have to say that I'm leaning more towards thoreau's perception, what is the point of living and being a man if you do not make your life out to all that it can be.It sounds very selfish, but he is saying that making sure that you make the best possible life for yourself should be your priority, and then after you have secured a solid future, you can start worrying about others.

7:56 PM  
Blogger anam said...

I agree with Thoreau's quote, that we as human beings have an obligation to disobey the law if it contradicts with what we feel is right. Although laws are put in place to ensure that the general population is safe, some times I think that laws should be broken because I feel they are unjust. For example, in many countries it is against the law to disagree with the leader's actions and/or their opinions, and at times death is the consequence. I think that it is any of the citizen's right to protest their leader's actions, if they believe they are unjust and inhumane. Even though they run the risk of being killed for rebelling, if they stand up for their beliefs and defy the corrupt government, it could inspire other citizens to stand up for their morals as well. If everyone unites and rebels against their leader, the leader could be overthrown and all of the people who sacrificed their lives for their beliefs, made a worth while decision because it changed the government.

8:26 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

Revolutions are made through fighting the law, and finding a better way to do things. If we didn't fight the law the world would probably be ruled by the generations of a family and stay that way forever. We have a duty to fight the law in order to make the world a better place for all mankind. There may be consequences, but the gains greatly outweigh the losses. If we didn't fight the law, if change never occurred, the world would be one dull place.

8:47 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

I do agree with Thoreau's statement. Though we could not be the free people we are without government, i think that we should act how we please. I also think that we have an obligation to disobey if we don't agree with it because the government needs to see what we are unhappy with. Without people disobeying the law, certain rights that we wanted would not have some of the joys and rights we do now. With certain dreams falling to the onsequences is worth it. I believe that it all depends on that persons perspective and what they want out of life.

8:48 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

I agree with Thoreau that civil disobedience is necessary because the laws are written by men and no man is perfect and it is up to each man to use his best judgment and make his own choice. No person will be content if their choices are made for them and the choices we make define that we are so that if the right to make our own choices is taken away from us so is the point of living.

9:22 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

I agree with Thoreau. If what the law says to do is morally incorrect, but you don't take action to fix it or do something about it, than you cannot complain. It is apparently not morally wrong enough for you, or anyone else, to care. But if the government is in the wrong, you have an obligation as a human being, to act to change the law to better the morals of the human race. As for the consequences, pick your battles. If you don't like the law because you just don't like it, then the consequences are just hurting you more. But if the law is truly unmoral and you truly believe that standing up against them is the right thing to do, the consequences will only help your cause and make you fight stronger. If they reprimand you for what you believe in, they are just giving you something more to fight against than just a bunch of rules written out on a piece of paper.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Christine D said...

Like the majority of the people before me, i agree with Thoreau. All changes have to start with someone, and many times that could mean breaking the law to do what you believe in. If you look back in US history, our society is based on these ideas. If you dont agree with how things are going, break the law to change it. Washington and fellow revolutionist broke many laws in order to make a change they believed was in need.

9:59 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

Few of us have the knowledge and courage to do what Thoreau says. I agree with Thoreau because individuals with the power to stand for their own and on their own. But I do question the individual.

One is obligated to disagree with a normality or law and can protest it, but does the individual want to change the law?

Would we call this individual a rebel or a radical?

Under what conditions does an individual want to defy law?

9:59 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

I agree with Thorea. If what is right does contradict the law, then you still need to do it. Just because the law says one thing, that does not mean it is the just and right thing. The government can be wrong. This goes back to what we talked about today; what is holding us back from doing what we want to do?
Are we going to let the authority control us or are we going to stand up for what we beleive and maybe become the authority?

10:12 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

I agree with Thoreau because we should stand up for what we believe in or it would not be a democracy. But it does depend what it is. If you disagree with murder, then if you are ok with spending your life in prison, then go ahead, but that consequence to me is not worth the fight. Again, that was an example, I do not agree with murder.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

I also agree with Thoreau because you do have a right to stand up for what you believe in. If we don't stand up for ourselves, we will never be able to change what is wrong and unfair. However, although you have this right, I believe that if you abuse it, you can have it taken away.

1:41 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

I agree with Thoreau. If everyone followed the law we would not live in the USA. If we followed the law minorities would have no rights. If the consequences of gaining new feeedoms for others is jail or death, I would accept that for the general betterment of society. So basically I agree with brian k.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Amy O. said...

Thoreau has the right idea about the position and responsibilities any individual has. People need something be themselves in, while voicing their opinions they often embrace the freedom that comes with being an individual. Even if what one disagrees with isn't influenced by their protests, a person will end up with stronger character and willpower to stand up for what they believe. It is a constant lesson for people to do just as Thoreau said, to be men first.

7:20 PM  

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