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Two Sane Extreimist Essay

1103 words - 5 pages

“The government is best which governs least”. That was the motto of, Henry David Thoreau, one of America’s first advocates for civil disobedience. Along with Henry, another advocate for civil disobedience was Martin Luther King Jr. Both fought against different causes. For example, Thoreau criticized slavery and the Mexican-American war because he wanted to people to prioritize their conscious instead of simply following the law and Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for equality and the “god-given” rights that belonged to African Americans. In their writings, they both defined or discussed the right time to act, just-law, and what it means to be an extremist. Although both were slightly ...view middle of the document...

They told Martin Luther King Jr. that they agreed with him, but that instead of protesting or going to the streets, he should let the battle against segregation occur in the courts. King responded, “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights” (381). Unjust laws do not change over time unless people take action.
The dictionary definition of the word law is, “the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people”, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision. What is a just law? Thoreau and King discussed the concept of laws and what people should do when it comes to following them. Thoreau asked people to prioritize their consciousness over what a law told them to do. He said, “It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support” (311).
Martin Luther King Jr. was the type who actually tried to eradicate an entire problem or wrong. Just like Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr. believed that every one has the moral responsibility to obey the just law and disobey the unjust law. He stated, “a just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law” (382). Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero to many people, but he was once imprisoned for being brave and willing enough to fight against unjust laws through peaceful assembly and protests.
As Thoreau and King explained their views and the importance of taking action, they found themselves in a strange position. While trying to fight injustice and unjust laws, they were labeled extremists. It is ironic because the idea and the creation of the United States could be considered extremist too. There is no difference between Martin Luther King Jr. fighting for equality and people seeking independence from a kingdom because of unjust laws. King was stuck between two groups, the...

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