In every country, there exists a government. The government can either be under the control of the military or elected officials. In many countries in the world, the citizens, thus, civil government, elect the government. The governance system in the United States of America is put into force by the civil government. Every civil government has a set of legislation that affects the people positively or negatively. The law defines the conduct of the citizens in public and how the obligations that they owe to the country. To be considered a patriot, one needs to honor the obligations that are spelled in the laws. Often, expression of autonomy that goes contrary to the legislation may brand someone as unpatriotic, and the consequence may be jail. Henry David Thoreau is a philosopher who studied the American system of governance and shares some of the reason why one may resist to civil government in his writing. This paper analyzes Thoreaus essay as documented in his book Resistance to Civil Government.
In the essay, Thoreau establishes in the essay that mass of men serves the states. According to the philosopher, the state does not view an individual based on his nature but as a machine that coated by the human nature. Therefore, one needs to stand up to the state on the basis that he or she is first a person before being viewed as a source of labor. The essay that is presented by the author offers insight on how the state perceives the citizens based on the expectations that they have of the citizens. For example, all required paying taxes based on the established percentages of income. Failure to pay the taxes may land one in jail for being disobedient.
Thoreau calls for the need to be rational when engaging with his states. Based on his account, one may serve the devil assuming he or she is serving God without having the intent of serving the devil (Thoreau 7). What Thoreau means is that the government is an institution that is marred with a lot of evil. The government relies on the ignorance of the population and quest by the public to honor the state to flourish. When one challenges the government, he or she is viewed to against social cohesion or progress. However, everyone has a right to stand against evil and devote him or herself in doing what he or she feels to be right. Following the standards that have been pre-established by the government does not guarantee one being right to save for the scenario where he or she is articulate of the real issues that need to be addressed by the government. The law is not the benchmark of what is right for laws are formulated and passed by the majority. The majority may be wrong. One only needs to believe on what his or her conscience affirms to be right without being reliant to the dictates of the majority in the society.
The article further claims that the values that an individual may acquire are often higher than the values that are proposed by the government. In the article, the philosopher states that he is too high born to be propertied (Thoreau 7). The intent of the quote is that the government lacks the moral capacity to lead any reforms. Therefore, reforms can only be initiated and achieved at the individual level. The author of the essay writes in a poetic manner when he encourages his audience to be keen in leading internal reforms based on what they believe in and not what has been reestablished.
Thoreau further claims that the government only regards those who agreed to the policies and rules that they have established as the good citizens. The author asserts that those who are considered to be good citizens have the same worth as dogs and horses (Thoreau 7). Comparing the good citizens to dogs and horses is figurative. Dogs and horses are known to be loyal to their masters and will always do what the master dictates. Therefore, the good citizen is loyal to the government and will adhere to what the government requires of him or her even if the requirement does not agree with his or her conscience.
The essay extracted from the book Resistance to civil government calls for the need to rethink of reforms in the government and does not incite the audience against their government. Reforms ought to be thought by what I wrong and what is right and not by what the majority establish. Believing in the majority is misleading as there is an affirmation that the majority are always right. When one follows the rule of law as set by the majority, he or she passively develops the character of a dog or horse. The two animals are used figuratively in the essay to mean following of laws and seeking the tag of a good citizen without critiquing, the laws based on right and wrong.
Thoreau, Henry D. Civil Disobedience: On the Duty of. Auckland, N.Z.: Floating Press, 2008. Internet resource.
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