Essay Sample on Civil Disobedience

Posted on March 11, 2009

The term civil disobedience means “refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by nonviolent means”, theories on this term have been around for a long time. (American Heritage Dictionary 3rd Edition pg161) People like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. have took up and preached their own theories on civil disobedience. The two have there own reasons why to practice civil disobedience but there view on it is in similar manner. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to stop South African government from making all Indians register with Registrar of Asiatics. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to stop the segregation of the colored people in southern parts of America.

While both men fought for different causes they had a similar theme they both saw their people been treated unjustly. Martin Luther King Jr. saw colored people in southern parts of America been prosecuted on bass of there color. Mahatma Gandhi saw Indians been prosecuted on bass of there race. Both men knew that the only way to stop their prosecutors is by standing up to them. Mahatma Gandhi unlike most of Indian community wanted to stand up to Great Britain in passive resistance he called it a “weapon of weak men”. Gandhi believes that the way to stop the prosecution of his people is by civil disobedience.

Mahatma Gandhi used civil disobedience because he knew that it was the only way that the Indian people could fight the Great Britain laws. Gandhi’s called his form of civil disobedience “Satyagrahis” and, one of the believe that Satyagrahis gave was that Indian people where strong and with that believe it made the Indian people believe they will have the power to over rule the laws that Great Britain passed. Gandhi also said that Satyagrahis was a peaceful form of civil disobedience and violence is prohibited even when it would be in their favor. Gandhi said that “Satyagraha and brute force, being each a negation of the other”. Another thing that Gandhi view on civil disobedience held was that when a person decide to be a part of the movement that he knows the consequences and is willing to pay the penalties for his actions. Satyagrahis used news journals and books to inform the people about what was happening, which was a good way to keep all the member informed. When all the does steps went into action Gandhi and a lot of Satyagrahis followers where send to jail. Gandhi told his followers that under Satyagrahis believes all of them should obey the rules that where set by the jail as long as they Уnot inconsistent with [there] self-respect or with [there] religious convictions.” After the Gandhi pull all of the his civil disobedience in action it didn’t take long for the Great Britain to try to come to some kind of a compromise with the Indian community about the registration laws. Gandhi strong believe in hi Satyagrahis was what helped him and the rest of the Indian community stop their prosecutors and gain some freedom for his people. Gandhi believed that his use for civil disobedience was justified because Great Britain and their government was treating the Indian unfair and would keep doing that until the Indian would stand up to them. In same way as Gandhi used civil disobedience to protect his people from racial prosecution Martin Luther King Jr. used tactics of civil disobedience to protect the colored people from prosecution based on their color.

Martin Luther King Jr. just like Gandhi was a leader in his community and believed that civil disobedience was the way to change the laws and feeling that where set against the colored people in southern states of America. King believed that only way to get his point across is by taking action but he just like Gandhi believed that the action that has to be taking should be in form of non-violent protest and with out use of any physical force. King also says that to justify acts of civil disobedience you must have prove that wrong is been done to you and have fact to prove why you are opposing something or someone. King justified his act of civil disobedience by show that there was a lot of hatred towards the Negroes by the country police and court systems.

He then say that after you have prove of that wrong is been done upon you try to show your fact to the opposite side and try to negotiate and come up with a solution that favors both sides. King tried to negotiate with the political government but they refused to talk to him. Then he tried to take his negotiations to the economic community where he tried to come to some kind of compromise. But when that didn’t work out either he didn’t see anything that he or his people could do beside take direct action against the government.

Just as Gandhi said to his people King also told his people that the direct action they take would have to be done in a non-violent matter with never using any physical force against the opposition. He also told his followers as Gandhi told his that you would have to know the consequences and would be able to pay the penalties without and striking back with physical. When all of his followers understood what they where getting them self in to King used his final step in his civil disobedience tactics.

He took up direct action as the final step when nothing else worked. He start to have sit-ins and marches he used does tactics because he believed that only in that matter will the government be force to give in and try to negotiate and give the colored people some respect and power. Just like Gandhi forced the Great Britain government to negotiated some type of compromise by not giving in and lets all of the Satyagrahis be send to jail with out fighting back. So did King with his followed with the marches and the sit-ins. King just as Gandhi believed that only way to get any change is if you do protest out in the open where everyone can see you and that you are willing to accept the penalty by been send to jail. Just as Great Britain government saw that they been unfair to the Indian people make the America government see the injustice they are showing towards colored people and make them negotiate with you to come to some kind of a compromise. King believe that only way to have justice is by having tension and the best way he saw to make justified tension is by civil disobedience.

Both King and Gandhi saw civil disobedience had been just because they felt that segregation and prosecution was unjust. They saw civil disobedience as making the opposition see that they are wrong and what they doing is morally wrong. King and Gandhi saw the laws that where passed against their people as unjust laws because they only affected small part of people and not affect the people who pass the laws. King showed an example how laws are not always just by saying that “everything that Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything that Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal”. He was trying to show how even the government made the law legal it was still unjust as a moral law and civil disobedience would have been justified as the right thing to do. Gandhi just like King felt that not everything that was legal was just and that why as King he believed that civil disobedience is the way to make just with a unjust legal law.

During this day I believe that I would take up Martin Luther Kings view on civil disobedience as my own because I see just how he said that not all laws that are legal are just. I believe that not all that is made law is just for all people but only make it just for the majority. King view on civil disobedience is more suitable for this day and age that why people would try to fallow his example if they would have to take up civil disobedience.

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