Sep 02

Disobeying the Laws of the Land

henry david thoreau faire Henry David Thoreau wrote strong words backed by his beliefs to the people of the United States in his piece Civil Disobedience. Thoreau had the attitude of a man who longed for a laissez faire government. He wanted the country to disassociate themselves with the government that intrudes into the lives of the people. The kind of leaders that rule with the majority, only because it is the majority, not because the decisions made are the right and just, must be taken down from their power. Thoreau, if given the chance to discuss his beliefs on segregation, his opinion would drift against forced segregation, and in favor of voluntary segregation. If a person believes that he is making just choices, than he or she should be allowed to follow his own judgment without the government interfering.

Thoreau, in his paper on Civil Disobedience, discusses his feelings with the American government and their role in the citizen’s lives. He argues that the government is not useful when the use their power by ruling with the majority every time, but rather, it is better for society for each individual to act within their beliefs of the most legitimate viewpoint.

Considering these beliefs held by Thoreau, if he were to have a public opinion at the time in the United States period of segregation of schools in the United States, Thoreau would disapprove of forcing a group of people into a certain school, and not allowing them to attend another institution. This is a tough dilemma to configure for Thoreau; if a group of people believe it to be right for them to not allow a certain group of individuals into a school, one might think Thoreau, and, for the sake of the argument, the government, to side with the pro- segregation group, is the right idea. But when understanding Thoreau’s way of thinking, even if the majority of individuals are on the side of pro-segregation, that does not mean that is what everyone else should conform to.

If the African American individuals of a community do not see segregation as reasonable and just, then they should do something about it. It takes one person to make a change in world. If one person starts the change, others will follow, and if they firmly believe that what they are doing and what they believe in is just, others will come around and agree with this. And when the government realizes this way of belief is just, this could change the laws in place.

Now for another example of Henry David Thoreau’s way of thinking in the world today: Would Thoreau approve of affirmative action laws that grant preferential treatment to minorities in matters and job appointments? Likely not. To him, it would not seem fair that a certain group of individuals would get to be treated better than another group just because of what race they are. Thoreau would likely disapprove of laws that benefit any group of people over another. He would rule in favor of laws that contributed to everyone more so being equal.

henry david thoreau

But if Thoreau understood the society that would live in today, there is a greater chance that he would approve of this kind of circumstance. In today’s world, minorities are treated often as a lower class of people when comparing to the European Americans of the United States. For years this has been the way, but the U.S. is still in the process of change. If minorities did not receive special benefits and extra help to get into colleges and jobs, many white Americans would still be the vast majority of the individuals in the working force. Hiring managers and those that bring on new associates to the company have been known over the years to discriminate one group of people and favor others. Maybe not for racist reasons, but there some that factor into the decision asking. Often times, white males have a higher chance of getting a high paying job compared to a minority individual. So, statistically, having these type of programs actually can put minorities on a more level playing field, and almost, give these individuals an equal chance of earning as much as his white counterpart. So when understanding this sense, Thoreau could definitely be in favor of this instance.laissez-faire

Humans must live true to themselves and to others to make this country a fair place to live in. When the government only sides with majority, this does not mean they make all of the laws just. Who is to say that if the majority of people agree with a lot that they are agreeing with a right and just law?

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