Thoreau, King and Gandhi

Essay by danielavalle109College, UndergraduateA-, October 2014

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Daniela Cruz Valle

Dr. Lynn Ramert

Ethical Decision Making through the Cinematic Process DJCAE 100

15 September 2014

Three Principles of Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is a philosophy practiced all over the world, for the purpose of bringing compromising peace between opposing parties. Discussions in reference to civil disobedience range to war to healthcare and even to small disagreements. Examples can be seen in our world today by strike, marches and the handling of disputes. "These civil nonviolence disputes are now accepted, however people that practiced this approach were being dismissed as extremists" (King 297). The most influential nonviolent activists were Henry David Thoreau with his essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, Mahatma Gandhi in his writings of Satyagraha, and Martin Luther King in the Letter From Birmingham City Jail. This paper will explore the common beliefs these three leaders share on civil disobedience.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have similar beliefs about nonviolent civil disobedience. Gandhi's and King's predominant similarity originates in their philosophy of love between men, which means that nonviolence must be used as a way to solve conflict. "For Gandhi a cosmic spirit, the atman often translated as the soul connected all living things, atman shared many attributes and was described as a force, an active principle, and a source of intelligent energy" (Parekh 55). King similarly believed in agape, which means understanding, redeeming good will for all men (King 19). It is also a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor (King 19). For Gandhi and King, violence was fruitless and produced further resentment and abhorrence towards each other.

In addition to their philosophies on love, and fighting the laws and not man, Gandhi and King both disagreed on...