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Justice In Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience

925 words - 4 pages

Justice Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience

By definition justice means the quality of being just or fair. The issue then stands, is justice fair for everyone? Justice is the administration of law, the act of determining rights and assigning rewards or punishments, "justice deferred is justice denied.” The terms of Justice is brought up in Henry David Thoreau’s writing, “Civil Disobedience.”
Justice has different standards for every group that it is presented upon. Thoreau’s opinions and criticism is strongly stated. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was described as many things. Thoreau was an author and naturalist with very Republican views. Morals inspired him. He ties in morality with justice many times in his piece. He was as well a pacifist, who was more talk than action. He was an abolitionist who sought justice for minorities. They didn’t have the ability to defend themselves.
In Thoreau’s view, he felt that the government was insufficient. He didn’t need the laws to be just, he used his conscious and morality. He was compelled to do what morally was right, rather than it being based on government issued laws such as the complacent society there is today. People seem to care about justice, yet are immoral. This was the message Thoreau was trying to get across.
Through all these wildly changing times, are we the people also changing? Is the generation gap a myth or can it be sustained?
In evaluation of Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” essay, the answer to this is a resounding no. Thoreau opposed the war with Mexico in 1847 just like Jane Fonda opposed the Vietnam War more than 100 years later. Thoreau’s anti-war sentiment has been repeated in nearly every generation since the founding of this country. Civil disobedience has taken many forms in American history from protestant rallies to boycotts, but sentiment is a familiar one—it’s a moral issue, it’s taking a stand on what you think is right. Thoreau is taking a stand, his own moral compass compels him. Acting on your own conscience is a strong theme throughout Thoreau’s essay. He shows disdain for the common masses, who are apathetic, or if not, at least uninvolved in these conditions and events that Thoreau feels so passionately that he must oppose. He states incredulously, “There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them, who esteeming themselves children of Washington and Franklin, sit down with their hands in their pockets and say that they know not what to do, and do nothing…they will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy to evil, that they may no longer have it to regret.”
To complicate Thoreau’s passion to...

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