According Webster’s dictionary, civil disobedience is simply, the refusal to obey laws as a way of forcing the government to do or change something. In Henry David Thoreau’s case, he refused to pay taxes because he believed the government was using its revenues to promote slavery, which Thoreau was strongly against. After reading through Cummings’ chapter on Henry David Thoreau, I began to think about the positive and negative effects of civil disobedience. If you look at the history of the United States, you would see that this country has been built through much pain and suffering. Abraham Lincoln had a famous quote and he said within that quote the following, “Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty”. If you look at this quote and relate it to civil disobedience and Thoreau’s actions, it is quite fascinating. Thoreau did not pay his taxes because he was against slavery and believed that government was using the tax money to promote and continue slavery. As citizens do we have an obligation to obey the law, like Lincoln said, or do we have an obligation to do what we think is right? If the US citizens never participated in civil obedience, where would we be today? It is hard to look at Lincoln’s stance and his quote and think about how we could have improved out society and the human rights issues we faced in the past. I find it hard to believe that we would be where we are at today without civil disobedience.
Is civil disobedience the most effective way to see change in out society? Is it more or less effective than protest or rioting?