There have been situations in the history of America, where the society has felt the necessity to rebel against the government. The most known cases are those of King and Thoreau. These two individuals had the courage to rebel against the powerful government of the United States. They were both put in prison for their actions. These two men had dreams for a better United States for the sake of its citizens and stood up for their beliefs. They aired their dreams through peaceful protests and civil defiance. These two remarkable individuals in the history of the United States had similar as well as different approaches and ways of basing their arguments (Thoreau, p 4).
This paper is a comparison between Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau and Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
The two men were in agreement that the people had a part to play in ending civil injustice in the country. They encouraged people to take part in resistance to immoral laws in the United States. Both their letters they had sent from jail were published in order for every person to read. The main point of King was on injustice and presented the claim that injustice in any place is a danger to justice all over the place. Just like king, Thoreau talked about justice (Thoreau, p 61). His key point was injustice in connection with the government. He put forward a proposal that the government needed to be completely changed immediately.
The two used an approach that was similar at the same time different. They both passed their message in a calm, language full of facts, reason and balance. They were guided by similar principles and the calmness in tone and language was to ensure that their message was completely understood and that their point was made. Both works are a revelation of the government of their time. They were all guided by their dissatisfaction with the government and appealed to the pubic to feel the same way they did (Thoreau, p 15).
While King was spiritual, calm and apologetic in his writing, Thoreau was aggressive and assertive. This reveals his serious hatred towards the government. Though the two present similar ideas, their view towards them are completely different. While King advocates for the creation of awareness and betterment of a community that is, the African Americans, Thoreau advocates for individual rights for everyone (Thoreau, p 76). Despite the fact that King realizes that he is put in jail wrongly, he accepts to go in as a way of revealing the injustice of the government to the people. Thoreau questions everything that is done.
He questions the democracy in the country. He also wants to show people that they ought to question everything that they are not comfortable with. This is the reason why Thoreau questions his day in prison. They both agree on the existence of injustice. While king wants to change the law because they are morally unfair, Thoreau wants them to change because he personally does not agree with them. King believes in the need of people to fight injustice. Thoreau claims that people should be in a position to question the unjust laws and endeavor to change them (Thoreau, p 62).
Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. are important references when it comes to the concept of civil resistance to unjust laws. Their work has been remarkable throughout the history of the United States and has done a lot in addressing and advocating for justice in the country. It is a fact that aspects of injustice in governance exists. The work of King and Thoreau acted as eye openers for the people to be able to deal with injustice. They both shared common beliefs and principles though their views of these were somewhat different (Thoreau, p 94). In conclusion, the two taught people the importance of fighting against injustice and unjust laws. They do exist and it is important to deal with them.
Thoreau, Henry. 1993. Civil Disobedience and Other Essays. Minneola, NY: Dover
Publications, Inc. 1993.