Roots of non-violent civil disobediance philosophy

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Roots of Non-violent Civil Disobedience Philosophy Civil Disobedience has been seen in many societies and during many different times, even as far back as ancient Rome. Acts of civil disobedience have come from the small and large grievances of people. During the 19th and 20th Centuries, major civil disobedience movements started from the philosophies of three famous people. The philosophies of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King will be presented. Thoreau wrote the Essay on Civil Disobedience, in which he addressed the question, “when do larger moral imperatives justify violating a law supported by the majority”. His response was that when a law “… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law’’. This follows from basic English Common Law, in which you can do something as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. Thoreau’s philosophy is that you disobey a command (law) when it is hurting someone else. Another area of his thinking is that government is symbolic of a ‘machine’, and man should commit non-violent disobedience to ‘gain access to the machine’. Otherwise, the machine will keep on grinding or producing its bad product. These philosophies were part of the foundation of Gandhi’s and Kings’ opinions. Mahatma Gandhi is thought of as leading the pacifist movement to get the British out of his country, India. Many people thought that Gandhi’s philosophy was passive, but he actually refrained from violence towards his oppressors, knowing that he and his followers would receive violence from the oppressors. His philosophy was that there are three responses to aggression: first, accept it and run away; second, stand and fight; or third (which was the best of all and required the most courage) to stand and fight by non-violent means. Although not the father of civil

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