I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man. But the rich man—not to make any invidious comparison—is always sold to the institution which makes him rich.
In the progression from absolute monarchy to limited monarchy to democracy, Thoreau observes an evolution in government toward greater expression of the consent of the governed. Politics and politicians act as though the universe were ruled by expediency. Conclusion Both Socrates and Thoreau had strong thesis on what an ideal people-government relationship should be like.
I was shown quite a long list of verses which were composed by some young men who had been detected in an attempt to escape, who avenged themselves by singing them.
They were not interested in justice or in taking any risks. Oh for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back which you cannot pass your hand through.
The State, having thus learned that I did not wish to be regarded as a member of that church, has never made a like demand on me since; though it said that it must adhere to its original presumption that time.
Indeed I have reason to suspect myself on this head; and each year, as the tax-gatherer comes round, I find myself disposed to review the acts and position of the general and state governments, and the spirit of the people, to discover a pretext for conformity.
Through this contradiction, Thoreau reveals a subtle point: Wrong will be redressed only by the individual, not through the mechanism of government.
Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. You do not put your head into the fire. A man may grow rich in Turkey even, if he will be in all respects a good subject of the Turkish government.
It exists for the sole purpose of ensuring individual freedom. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. Thoreau asserts that government as an institution hinders the accomplishment of the work for which it was created.
If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt.
Still his quality is not wisdom, but prudence. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax.
He created a heliocentric model of the universe, in which the Earth and planets revolved around the sun, which stood in opposition to earlier theories that the planetary bodies revolved around the Earth. They only can force me who obey a higher law than I.
Socrates wants the people to be submissive to the government while Thoreau warns the people who follow the laws of the state blindly even if they are infringing on their own rights and they do not reflect what is right in their own view.
It not only divides states and churches, it divides families; aye, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.
A man has not every thing to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. I never had seen its institutions before.
Section Three Summary Thoreau now turns to his personal experiences with civil disobedience. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose, if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men.
In their practice, nations agree with Paley; but does any one think that Massachusetts does exactly what is right at the present crisis. In his contradiction, Thoreau claims that to obey a law he opposes would be to pay a penalty far worse than any loss of money or property because it would violate his conscience and self-respect.
His friends even organize his escape but his worry about what people will say stops him in his tracks. Civil Disobedience 28 tance, it behooves a man to do here in America today with regard to slavery—but ventures, or is driven, to make some such despe.
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