"Passive Observers" In Light Of Civil Disobedience

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade May 2001

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There are more than six billion people on our mother earth, and I am only one of them. The interesting twist to this ratio is that you are only one of those six billion, too. Approximately 4.2 billion people have died during this century from all causes; unfortunately, through their own ignorance, human beings are responsible for close to 200 million of those deaths. One out of every 21 human deaths during the 20th Century has been caused by humans themselves, and that accounts for genocide, tyranny, homicides, biological warfare weapons such as AIDS and other fatal diseases, war and famine. The only reason these tragedies exist is because we allow them to exist.

In 1849, Henry David Thoreau wrote the "Resistance to Civil Government", also referred to as "Civil Disobedience." Thoreau was one of the first few to bring the obvious truth into light and in that essay he summarized the principle of change on paper: if you're not pleased, then do something about it.

Such a simple idea and yet one that has prevailed through the existence of time and is in the mind of many living individuals, if not all.

Thoreau wrote the paper during a time of uneasiness and was motivated by such controversial issues as slavery and the Mexican War. He viewed both as exemplifications of the government's injustices and proceeded to say that he could not "recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's government also"(389). Condemning slavery and the Mexican War, Thoreau centered his paper around the wrongs carried out by governments. He included in his criticism the irrationality of voting, the ludicrousness of paying taxes as well as criticizing the army and religion.

During that time, to write a paper that denounced the actions of the government...