The Civil Disobedience Of Antigone And The Teachings Of Martin Luther King Jr.

1543 words - 6 pages

From the monarchs of the ancient era to the democracy of today, order has been maintained by means of rules and regulations known as laws. Compliance with these laws is enforced through punishments ranging in severity according to the crimes committed to reduce violence and misconduct from individuals within a society. However, just as citizens consent to abide by the laws of the state in which they reside, one is compelled to preserve justice and condemn the unjust decisions of man when the social contract contradicts the laws sanctioned by God. Approaching this conflict between natural and manmade laws in a non-violent manner is called “civil disobedience”.
One of the most well known activists of civil disobedience was Martin Luther King Jr. during the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. King’s theory of a non-violent approach to injustices consisted of a process that promoted dialogue of a peaceful nature in order to gain understanding while reconciling differences. Nevertheless, when the laws made by man attempted to negate the laws of God, King urged people to use creative tension in the form of civil disobedience to establish awareness that injustice existed. Within this philosophical and political concept, it would seem that Antigone from Sophocles’ Antigone participated in an act of “civil disobedience” that King would have praised due to her dedication to uphold justice at the cost of her own life. However, closer examination of Antigone’s actions and conduct reveal that although she participated in an act of insubordination to promote justice for her departed brother, her failure to promote negotiation and accept her punishment freely were not considered a part of King’s theory of civil disobedience.
Before examining the actions of Antigone, one needs to understand fully Martin Luther King Jr.’s theory of civil disobedience. In his correspondence to his fellow clergymen entitled “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King, a promoter of peace and brotherhood, analyzes his act of non-violent resistance to clarify the necessitate of producing creative tension. King begins by elucidating the differences between just and unjust laws. According to King, unjust laws are human laws that are not harmonized with the natural laws of God that cause the degradation of personality and damage the soul. According to this ideology, King states that when injustice occurs there is a correct approach to civil disobedience. First, King expects one to collect information regarding the immoral implication of law with the intent of proving injustice. This requires one to be able to distinguish between the laws of man and the laws of good, the immoral laws and moral laws, the unjust laws and just laws. Next, negotiation is used to establish an understanding of the endured injustice; however, this purpose is not to humiliate or defeat the adversary, but to promote friendship through a form of selfless and spiritual love known as agape. As Martin Luther...

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