Week 12: Joe Biden/Kamala Harris Have Been Elected!

Hi Students,

So we have a winner and a new President! Especially historic is our first female Vice President: Kamala Harris!!!  In two weeks, we will be discussing the woman’s rights movement (alongside the Civil Rights movement) that helped pave the way for this and so many other “glass ceilings” to finally be broken.  Here is an excerpt of her inspiring acceptance speech for you to enjoy in the meantime.

I also want to point out your excellent work responding to Emerson’s influential essays “Self-Reliance” and the “American Scholar.”  Many of you gave fascinating examples of the importance of thinking for ourselves as well as the challenges we often face in trying to do just that.

For next week, I ask that you read the work of his equally famous disciple Henry David Thoreau, who took “self-reliance” to a whole new level.  In 1845, influenced by Emerson, Thoreau built a simple cabin in the woods near Walden Pond and lived there for two years.  His aim was to get away from the pressures of society and “live deliberately” and truly find himself. The result of his remarkable experiment was published in Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854).  It was at Walden Pond that Thoreau also wrote his famous political essay about resisting the government when it acts immorally.  This essay is called “Civil Disobedience” and has had a massive influence on passive resisters and protest movements including Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and the heroic participants of the recent Black Lives Matter.  I ask that you

  1. Watch an interesting recent video on Thoreau filmed at Walden Pond
  2. Read “Where I Live and What I Lived For” (Chapter 2) from Walden

3. Read excerpts from  Civil Disobedience

4. Post a response to either “Walden,” “Civil Disobedience,” or the Walden documentary.

Keep up the great work.

33 Comments

  1. Jingquan Feng

    After reading the essay Excerpts From “Civil Disobedience” By Henry David Thoreau, I am surprised that what happened in the past still happened today. In the essay, Henry David talks about what citizens should do when they have problems with their president; he criticized that most people remain silent no matter what the president did. People should speak their own voice, not follow the majority. In the middle of the essay, he disagrees about the presidents who raised war with the Mexican and support slavery. To show his anger, he refuses to pay his tax in his town. After that, he got arrested by the police and sent him to jail. The way he against the government is one of the examples of non-violent ways. His action and his idea lead to one theme, “the independent thought.” Like the last discussion, we have about people who are controlled by technology. And their mind always influenced by the people on the internet. Donald Trump and his “proud boys.” are the perfect example of a lousy presidency and people without an independent free mind. Trump always uses social media to spread misleading information on the internet, and many people blindly follow his order, like not wearing a mask in a public place, injecting bleach, and attacking the people who disagree with trump. These problems are severe for the country. People should not use violence to suppress others that have different ideas. Like the private militia “Proud boys” who guard in the voting station, they use weapons to threaten others to not vote for Biden. So, where is the freedom, and where is the democracy of the United States of America. We allow peaceful protest, but we against the violent protest. In my opinion, people should feel free to have independent thought in this country. At the same time, the majority should listen to the voices of the minority because they are also one of us.

    • Mark

      Excellent discussion Jingquan. The examples you provide of everyone’s right “to voice his/her own opinion” are excellent. We all have rights, which should not be trampled on no matter who is in office. So long as the rights are reasonable. The Proud Boys are clearly unreasonable nut jobs who put our nation at risk. I agree with you thoroughly!

  2. Marjan Ahmed

    In the United states of America, every 4 years we vote and select a leader to represent our voice and our country. One of the main jobs of the government is to protect us and our natural rights of Life, liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. It is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Also, if the government fails to do its duty, people have the right to overthrow the president, government. That is the main focus of Excerpts From “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau. The government is for the people and the decisions it makes should be for the wellness of the people. If it interferes with our daily life and makes laws which makes our lives harder, we should be able to deny following it. As Thoreau mentioned, “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?” it is a major aspect which needs focus because if 90% people believe in a idea and due to majority vote the idea is implemented, what happens to the 10% who do not want to comply. I believe they should be allowed to follow their own ways as long as it does not violate the law. I have an example, recently our Governor Andrew Cuomo made a law for NYC that everyone in the vehicle needs to wear seat belt including the back seat. This is a great step towards the safety of everyone but there are many people who do not want to follow it. I do not want to wear a seat belt when I am in the back seat knowing that whoever is driving is an experienced driver. It should be suggested to wear the belt I believe it should not be a major law everyone must follow. Instead of this, there should be more police officers in the road to target people who speed and take their license away. The driving tests should be harder, and it should also include showing one’s skills in the highway. In the essay, Thoreau refused to pay taxes and spent a night in jail. But this should not happen if someone feels like not doing something made for majority of the population. But I also do not agree with the moto that, “That government is best which governs not at all.” This should not happen because if the government is not involved, the crime rates will go up and the people who suffer will be us. Therefore, there should be involvement of the government, but the laws should not be applied to everyone just because the majority agreed. There should be alternatives where people can still be happy and not violate the law.

    • Mark

      You make great points throughout this post Marjan. You are right, in my (and Thoreau’s) opinion, that “if the government fails to do its duty, people have the right to” reject those rules. Your disagreement with Thoreau “That government is best which governs not at all” is also valid. Keep in mind though that he wishes to point out that if all people were respectful of each other, there would be no need for any rules or laws. Unfortunately, there are too many “bad eggs” in society.

  3. Manija Shouff

    After reading the excerpts from “Civil Disobedience” by Henry Thoreau, Thoreau talks about the American government and how “That government is best which governs not at all” meaning it is better if there was no government and the people will choose one when they are ready. He also tells us that he knows there cannot be no government, but he would like a better one. I do agree with Thoreau on having a government, a government (governor) where people can talk to and discuss together what is important and what must be done for the good of all people, their community, state not just those that it can benefit. If there is no government, there will be chaos and mayhem which is worse than having a government you do not like (even though sometimes with a government same thing can happen). This excerpt reminds me of us, where everyone voted before and on the elections for a new president and the current president cannot accept that his term has ended. The people have voted for change and they shall get it. In other countries if a person disobeys the laws of the government, they get publicly beaten, thrown in jail for a month or more, etc. as for Thoreau, he did not pay taxes for 6 years and was put to jail for one night and it would have been longer if he was in a different type of government.

    • Mark

      I largely agree with your many points regarding Thoreau’s essay. Keep in mind that Thoreau also points out that if the government doesn’t act “morally” we all have the right to resist — and should do so.

  4. Lisbeth Rivas

    When we first entered the year 2020, I was already nervous about what was to come. I was dreadful about the upcoming election. I did not want Trump to continue being our president. He had already done a lot of damage in these past four years imagine four more. When reading the essay “Civil disobedience” By Henry David Thoreau, there was a particular paragraph that I couldn’t agree with more, it said “Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil.” For anyone to win the presidency, they have to sweeten the ear of their listeners; they tell us what we want to hear, not the truth. And then after the election, their true colors come out. And then they make all the wrong choices and do the exact opposite of what they promised the country. The government always believes they know best and that they’re doing it for the people. Instead, what they’re doing is overlooking our opinions. But how can you do your best if you’re not listening to us? They always wait for us to rebel to make a change and, not even that works. I hope that with Biden as our new president, we can push this country forward and make a change. The majority of us choose Biden because he was the better option not because he was good. And that says a lot about our government. America needs to make several changes if it ever wants to live up to its name.

    • Mark

      Lisbeth, You make such an important point in your post. in relation to this quote:
      “Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil.”
      Thanks to activists largely in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, Biden was able to get the necessary votes to win the presidency. Now we all have to see what happens to those last two senate seats in Georgia (so important). Hopefully, lots and lots of Democrats will come out to “resist” the Republican stranglehold on our country! Terrific points.

  5. Lisbeth Rivas

    When we first entered the year 2020, I was already nervous about what was to come. I was dreadful about the upcoming election. I did not want Trump to continue being our president. He had already done a lot of damage in these past four years imagine four more. When reading the essay “Civil disobedience” By Henry David Thoreau, there was a particular paragraph that I couldn’t agree with more, it said “Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil.” For anyone to win the presidency, they have to sweeten the ear of their listeners; they tell us what we want to hear, not the truth. And then after the election, their true colors come out. And then they make all the wrong choices and do the exact opposite of what they promised the country. The government always believes they know best and that they’re doing it for the people. Instead, what they’re doing is overlooking our opinions. But how can you do your best if you’re not listening to us? They always wait for us to rebel to make a change and, not even that works. I hope that with Biden as our new president, we can push this country forward and make a change. The majority of us choose Biden because he was the better option not because he was good. And that says a lot about our government. America needs to make several changes if it ever wants to live up to its name.

  6. Najeh Marcus

    I liked the video about Thoreau. It was interesting seeing the place that Thoreau was staying at. Walden Pond, the place he stayed seems to attract a lot of tourists. From what I understand from the readings and the video, Thoreau was living at Walden Pond away from civilization. I think one of the main points of the experiment was about independence. The video also mentioned that he practiced civil disobedience. I think it was kind of funny that he went to jail because he didn’t pay a poll tax. That experience made him write a book called “Civil Disobedience”. The video also says that the book inspired other civil rights leaders to do civil disobedience like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s amazing to think of how Thoreau’s ideas influenced a lot of people. Reading the excerpt from “Civil Disobedience” I see the quote used in the video that influences others to practice civil disobedience. He even included when he got arrested for not paying his poll tax. The interesting part of the final paragraph of the excerpt to me was when he said didn’t feel confined in his jail cell and that he was freer than his fellow townsfolk. I think in some ways him living away from civilization did make him freer.

    • Mark

      I’m glad you enjoyed the documentary on Thoreau, Najeh. You are completely right about the reason for his living at Walden in a cabin for two years: to gain a true independence. by Thoreau really was a non-conformist; what better way to protest a corrupt government than by not paying one’s taxes. Today of course this would get someone in serious trouble. But imagine if half the country decided not to pay their taxes. Then a corrupt government would come to an end. Nice post.

  7. Brianna Lesperences

    After reading “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau a particular part of the excerpt that stood out to me would be when he stated “But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.” The overall task of government is to be for the people, there has been many government officials all over the world that has misused their power that was given to them by the people, in order to serve and protect the people. One example would be SARS in Nigeria, a Special Anti-Robbery Squad that was supposed to target criminals instead began to target regular citizens leading to a new movement called EndSARS. EndSARS is a social movement in order to end police brutality in Nigeria. A government that is for the people won’t lie or abuse them but would instead be truthful and respect the rights that were set in place in order to protect a human beings life, When selecting a government we have to pay very close attention to what is being said and question their reasoning instead of just taking their word for it along with making sure they keep up with what they’ve promised.

    • Mark

      Terrific reading of Thoreau’s essay Brianna. That’s an excellent quote you chose:
      :Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.”
      The example you provide from Nigeria is very apt. In the USA, it looks like most Americans voted for the kind of government that “would command their respect.” Nicely done.

  8. Jannatul Fateha

    Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one’s conscience over the dictates of laws. It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and the Mexican-American War. Thoreau starts “Civil Disobedience” by saying that he agrees with the motto, “The government is best which governs least moral responsibility.” Indeed, he says, men will someday be able to have a government that does not direct at all.
    The one consistent thing that is important to all Americans and the reason why many people come here is freedom. Without Freedom, the list of more personal things that are important to Americans would not even exist, as we know it. Our values are focused on the basic principle that all Americans should have equal rights and representation wherever they live. When a government is unfair, people should refuse to follow the law and distance themselves from the government in general. A person is not obligated to devote his life to eliminating evils from the world, but he is obligated not to participate in such evils. America is a Freeland and not for any specific people. Every color of people and people from every religion and from anywhere are accepted in the United States. Everyone has the same freedom and nobody should be discriminated against. I don’t think we had seen any economical change during the last four years, and hopefully, we will see a massive change in the economy of the United States Of America in the next four years.

    • Mark

      Excellent points Jannatul. Your opening line says it all: “Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one’s conscience over the dictates of laws.” This goes to the heart of Transcendentalism. Trust yourself and your conscience and always act with integrity. Nicely done.

  9. Richard Li

    After reading “Civil Disobedience” the paragraph about voting can be applied to today as voting is still sort of a game, but more like chess since there is only really 2 sides. One mistake and the other side would win. Just like chess, there is more than one right move, but only one of them is better than the rest, just like electing to become president. One must do something that will attract most of the state. Now the right to vote according to the passage says that “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it” shows that voting just allows our voices to be heard, but in the end do nothing because everything comes down to chance. Voting allows us to feel power just like this years election, where everyone wanted Biden to win and not Trump, and it was nail-biting since it was very close for a long period of time between certain states. We have the ability to vote, but “There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men” applies more towards young adults as they don’t find the need to vote, which this year should be a big improvement since it was against Trump.

    • Mark

      Excellent discussion Richard. Your point about apathy amongst young voters as being a prime example on having no “virtue” is well stated. It does look however that this election had higher percentages of younger voters than ever before. It would be interesting to find the exact numbers. It’s also true that the election did feel like a game of chance … another reason for acting on our conscience when the elected representatives act like fools (in South Carolina perhaps?!) Great post.

  10. Dan

    What strikes me the most when reading Henry David Thoreau’s “Excerpts From ‘Civil Disobedience,’” is when you compare his thoughts current events in our pollical environment. His opening passages, which states, “I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe— ‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” This statement is I would consider to be highly conservative from a modern day stand point. Yet, the spirit of the rest of his writing is rebellious, which I would associate more current liberal motives against the contemporaneous administration. It is this mixture of values which I would like to illuminate. The South was seen as the “rebels” in the civil war, yet here is Thoreau, being rebellious towards the same government that would ultimately defeat the South. Thoreau’s actions are disobedient even though he is obviously anti-slave. The point that I am try to make here is that if whittle away at our enemies view-points, at the same time conceding our own faults, there is a fountain in everyone’s train of thoughts which we may peace with each other’s values. This is why in the interest of peace, we must be critical of ourselves, as we are of our enemies, so we don’t have to march down south, and kick some slavers ass into submission.

    • Mark

      Dan, you raise a subtle complexity in Thoreau’s unusual, truly original positions. On the surface, his ideas about “no government” appear to be “highly conservative” as you say. At the same time, his central point is that it’s only because of the deep corruption of certain people and their elected representatives, that good people need to be on guard lest their rights and happiness are taken away (it’s also why in the end we need laws).

  11. chris castellon

    After reading “Civil Disobedience” by Henry Thoreau I learned that the main focus of this is to inform people that they have the ability to overthrow not just the government but the president as well, “if” they fail to do their duty. As it is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence it is one of their most important jobs to protect us, our liberty and our rights. But if they were to make up laws that make our lives harder for both our health or financially then we have the right to deny this order. I’m probably not the only one who finds this quote fascinating but what Thoreau stating was what I strongly agree with: “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience”. I’m glad we live in a government in which we have the power and authority to speak up and decide what’s best for us, as for others who live in a different government if they were to express their own opinions about the law or order they will suffer the consequences. As of right now people are Relieved and are jolly this year because of not just the holidays but Biden won the election, people have high hopes for Biden who says he will keep his promise in making America great again and not abuse his power of president, just like Donald Trump who never ensured our safety from this virus or our wellfare or ensure we are still able to receive money. Most people wanted him to leave the white house and they did by voting him out fair and square.

    • Mark

      You make great points here Christopher and pick out the key quote from Thoreau’s essay:
      “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience”
      You also make another important point: We ALL have the right to speak out (and VOTE) and thus need to do so to prevent another Trump fiasco. Let’s not forget he’s now planning on running in 2024!!!

  12. Lionel Desroses

    There is this saying that goes a man’s worst enemy is his own self. In this situation, I guess we could put as a countries worst enemy is its own government because a countries government could either have the countries growing for the better or destroy that country from the inside out. Many will say that there are many different conspiracy stories behind a government’s, but many also say that a countries government is the primary purpose of the country’s growth and getting where it needs to be. Many will disagree, and many will agree with that statement, but who says that both sides are not right? It all depends on how we look at it because a country with no government to lead it and make law would be a chaotic country. Yet a country with a good lawfully and not croquet government would be one of the outgrowing countries, the possibility for that countries would be outstanding. It all sounds pleasant but we not living in a fairy tales now there is no way that it would be that perfect, man is greedy to give them power, and it goes over their head and forget what they really need to do but instead pretend to throw a little that would keep the country from dying all the way. Still enough to keep us moving like a machine running out of gas but keep putting $5 gas in it just as long as it gets you to point B. This brings to the point that henry had mentioned in his essay civil disobedience, “we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished, and it would have done somewhat more if the government had not sometimes got in its way.” This proves my point even more on how the government does not care about anyone besides itself. It is as the government is one of the primary purposes of why a country is not advancing. As long as people still stay obeying, they unlawfully law and make it seem like they are the one making the decision on what should be done next in the country. They would never believe that the government is controlling them like a machine. But the new generation that is coming up is more openly on finding the truth and are trying to fix some unsuitable laws and more, to make the country a better place. This leaves us wondering whether it is better to have a government leading the country or no government. Will men are able to live without a government, or will everything go to chaos?

  13. Galileo D

    I enjoyed reading this article and understood that the contemplation of Thoreau about how his life would be on the farm had nothing to do with material things, but he marveled at how his life would be easier and peaceful on the farm. I was amazed by his idea of acquiring multiple houses and leaving alone in seclusion. However, he did away with this idea stating that true richness is found in leaving things alone. Thoreau had always wished to be a homeowner, and despite his misfortune, he was excited about his building in Walden, and I believe this depicted a beginning of a new chapter in his life.
    I found interesting reading about Thoreau’s love for simplicity and nature. He appreciates little thing s like fresh air in the summer night. He is unimpressed by material things, and this is what influences him to fall in love with nature. Thoreau is a learned and well-traveled man, and he believes in religion and God as the Supreme Being. I believe this article teaches great morals in faith values, and it shows people the benefits of denouncing material things. I applaud that Thoreau insists on the benefit of reading and emphasizes that people should study the Bible.
    This article is also significant as Thoreau urges and insists on the importance of mental nourishment, which is more valuable than physical gratification. This article is a perfect choice as it touches on social background and insists that it is not important in human existence. Thoreau calls for aristocratic democracy, stating that there should be equality. He suggested that instead of noblemen in the establishments, there should be noble villages of men. This article clearly explains the benefits of simplicity, integrity, equality, and faith. I would use it as a recommendation for the improvement in society.

  14. Amoy Russell-Jonas

    In the present day world, the use of technology has got to the new height that it now becomes a threat rather than an aid to humanity. For instance, people nowadays trust the use of the internet and machines to do some task, then they trust their abilities to do tasks without technology. In schools, students now rely on their calculators to calculate 20 + 20 questions. This example illustrates how badly technology has handicapped human thinking abilities.
    In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance,” he tells the readers, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Based on this quotation, Emerson suggests that one ought to believe in them and acknowledge that everyone is unique, and that is how it should be. Overreliance on technology hinders creativity and innovation because people are afraid to think for themselves.
    According to this excerpt, we should use technology to supplement thinking but not do our tasks. We should instead read books, ask people how to do it, and do it by ourselves. Instead of just accepting the technology the way it is, we should also try to do things our way and avoid a copy-pasting lifestyle.
    Emerson further strengthens his message about self-independence in his article “The American Scholar” when he says, “To the young mind, everything is individual, stands by itself.” This bit points out that every mind is charged with the sole duty of thinking, not depending on others to think for it instead. The mind referred to here is people’s minds. We should believe in ourselves and stand independently in our decisions before we can cheaply adopt other people’s ideas.
    This quote is relevant in today’s contemporary world because people often mess during the electioneering periods because they rely more on what people say about the political candidates at the expense of thinking for themselves. People also choose fashion based on who they saw instead of coming up with their unique thought fashion.

    • Amoy Russell-Jonas

      Professor, I post this on the wrong post the second post is the right one…. I try to delete it but it didn’t work

    • Amoy Russell-Jonas

      Professor, I post this on the wrong post the second post is the right one…. I try to delete it but it didn’t work

  15. Amoy Russell-Jonas

    Thinking for ourselves is one thing that many people have started to question and respond positively to, thanks to Emerson’s works advocating for self-reliance in the decision-making process. Thoreau is one of the infamous disciples of Emerson. Emerson is applauded for the decision he made to relocate near the Walden Pond and lived there for two years so that he could be free from societal obligations and expectations. This way, he was sure that he would behave in such a manner dictated by his thinking and decisions. It was during that Thoreau wrote one of his stellar works, the “Civil Disobedience.”
    Civil Disobedience espouses the essence of human beings developing consciousness based on their judgments and not allow the law to dictate blindly. Thoreau shows his free-thinking ability by criticizing American social institutions and the policies that it exercises over her citizens by saying that some policies and laws are not worth it.
    He starts his work by arguing that in most cases, the government of different states never prove themselves to be useful to their citizens because they hold the notion that they have the support of the majority who voted for them. Thoreau adds that the government only believes that they support the most substantial majority without questioning what the few majorities hold to be legitimate.
    He urges the people to be free thinkers even if they are the minority and do not allow the laws and policies to dictate them. The Civil Disobedience enlightens the citizens on the importance of refuting the oppressive government and distancing themselves from such governments. One of the remarkable points from the essay is that one is not obligated to sacrificing their life to eliminate evil from the world, but instead, they are obligated not to take part in the evil deeds of the world.

    • Mark

      Excellent response Amoy. You do a fine job discussing how Thoreau wants us all to do our own part as citizens by not following bad laws blindly — as you note.

  16. Daniela Martinez

    Response to Walden documentary.

    After watching the film, I learned about two things that I did not understand first in “The American Scholar.” Firstly, when the philosopher John Kaag mentioned the first rule of getting educated by nature, I recalled part of my childhood on the farm. When I was a child, I moved around between the city and the farm due to my mom’s job. One thing that I noticed living in the wild was that I gain experience in manual skills. On the other hand, when I stayed in the city with my grandfather, I practiced other things without contacting the environment. Secondly, I could understand the idea of independence when the philosopher again explains how Thareu, of all people, decided on July 4th of 1845 to get his society’s freedom. It is not easy to get independent in solitude and mostly staying in the middle of the forest without a place to stay. However, Thareu did not mind that, and in fact, he was more attracted to it and decided to appreciate nature. Men has forgotten to appreciate nature since everyone prefers to live in urban places rather than deserted places where nature is in contact with the human being.

    Moreover, I liked when the philosopher tells how in a school trip, he told to his teacher that he would be a philosopher and in the present he is one. It made the film magical but at the same time realistic. I think that is what Tareu wanted at some point in his life: making people use their thinking to make actions but being independently of society and more in contact with nature.

    • Mark

      Fascinating response Daniela. It’s great that you’ve had first-hand experience living on a farm and are able to draw important lessons about it in comparison to city life. Nature and philosophy can reside IN us if we let it. Great point!

  17. Aaliyah Madurie

    The ‘Civil Disobedience’ article centers around the American government and its unjust laws. In this article thoreau demonstrates that the government has little to no conscience on the citizens who made them who they are today. For instance, Immigrants. President Donald Trump doesn’t favor immigrants even though half of this country is built by them. Trump was determined to get rid of everything that protects immigrants from being deported, such as the daca program which permits young immigrant children without documentation to be employed and enrolled in school. One line I found interesting from the article is when he stated that voting can be a sort of game; like checkers or backgammon. In my opinion voting is very important. It has an impact on you and the future generation. If one steals the election it can cause major problems for the american people which is why thoreau urges people to refuse the unjust laws that may occur and distance themselves. However, this is reality and disobeying laws is something you don’t wanna do regardless of whether the government is corrupt or not. Thoreau was one who disobeyed the rules by not paying taxes and had to spend a night in jail. However, not everyone’s experience will be the same. Every country has different rules and rulers. I am a African American, I wouldn’t dare to do such a thing knowing how blacks are treated in this country. With all of this being said, I do agree that the U.S government is very unjust because of its given support of slavery and war. Everyone’s opinion on a good government is different . Even though we might not be a fan of the government we need them else there would be nothing but chaos in this world.

  18. Afshan S (Lil B)

    I found the documentary and the excerpts from “Civil Disobedience” incredibly fascinating, especially to find that they have inspired the acts of many civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, and that Thoreau was staunchly against slavery. One of my favorite lines from Civil Disobedience is “Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?” This line harkens even now to our current political climate, where instead of crucifying Christ, Republicans love to have Jesus as their mascot, but act and behave in ways that Christ would have never approved of, and pronounce people like Trump as rebels. Another line I find memorable is:
    “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? … They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil.”
    Thoreau brings up a great point about how laws are often times written badly, often by people who appear to mean well, but in the end, these laws will hurt people with unintended consquences, like Jim Crow laws and the war on drugs. It’s sad that people have to exist at a time where there are unjust laws (I don’t know if there will ever be a time where all laws are just, maybe that’s just the way that society can continue to exist), and have to do with what they can to help fix them, but often times the ones in power aren’t willing to change it, and therefore lead people to go to extremes just to get their attention. Often times protests help, especially with media coverage, but at the end of the day, if the protest isn’t disruptive enough, no one will pay attention. It has to inconvenience enough people to get the entirety of their attention, not just a little bit of their attention, otherwise they will find it easy to brush it off. There’s a great documentary called “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution” (https://www.netflix.com/title/81001496), it’s about a group of handicapped people and their protests to get the laws changed so that they can have more accessibility everywhere in the US. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people have to suffer just so that politicians can muster up the will to improve the lives of people less fortunate than themselves.

  19. jawad awada

    Unlike many other countries the American people have the right to vote every four years to determine who they want elected as their next president. This year in particular was a much more eye opening election mainly because of the fact that this nation wanted to know whether or not it would still be divided for the next four years or if a change was coming. After reading “Civil Disobedience” it clearly states that the people have all the power and even have the power to get rid of the president. This to me was interesting because I had no idea this was even possible. We can not be controlled completely and if the president is making laws that can harm the people then he can be put out of office because of those decisions. The quote that is related to this subject is “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience”. This quote in particular states that the government can not do anything they want and if they are and it is affecting a larger portion of the people than they can be overthrown.

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