Civil Disobedience Essay example

Submitted By onesickchoi
Words: 1075
Pages: 5

The most influential forms of action may originate in the very absence of action. The refusal to pay taxes, the objection to cast a vote, and the rejection of personal property are all declarations of disapproval directed to an unjust government. The people of any unfair system are obligated to tailor their government through relentless civil disobedience or rebellion. For the sake of the governed, immediate action, or lack of action, must be taken when a government deviates from its course. It is not a man’s duty to eliminate any wrong, but he must not participate in any wrongdoing. With such alienations from direct or indirect misconduct, the governed can effectively respond to the injustices of their government. The uninformed involvement in senseless wars, incapability of the voting system, and the issuing of unjust laws have lead to a deterioration of trust between governments and their subjects. Civil disobedience has become an effective form of nonviolent rebellion against an unjust government or system. The governed must rebel against the government’s astounding ability to launch itself into unjust wars that claim countless lives. The American War in Vietnam was such a war, Tim O’Brien recounts that, “Vietnam seemed to be wrong. Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons. I saw no unity of purpose, no consensus on matters of philosophy, history, or law. The very facts were shrouded in uncertainty” (962). O’Brien discovered how ridiculous the war was, people were being sent overseas for reasons not made apparent to them. O’Brien could not identify a definite purpose of the war, and so Americans were dying unjustly. The war in Vietnam had arrived for O’Brien in the form of a letter, yet he was not prepared, he believed he “was above it” and that the occasion called for civil disobedience. In his rage, O’Brien thought to himself, “If you support a war, if you think it’s worth the price, that’s fine, but you have to put your own precious fluids on the line. You have to head for the front and hook up with an infantry unit and help spill the blood” (963). O’Brien wished that those who supported the war were the ones who needed to kill and risk death in Vietnam, not the innocent subjects of the government such as himself. The system was unjust, the war was unjust, and the people dying in Vietnam were dying for no apparent reason other than to “stop the Communists”. O’Brien was never given the opportunity to vote on the matter of Vietnam, nor was he given a choice to fight when drafted, his only option was to rebel against the flawed system of the government. O’Brien was determined to avert the war and he, “began thinking seriously about Canada. The border lay a few hundred miles north, an eight-hour drive. Both my conscience and my instincts were telling to me to make a break for it, just take off and run like hell and never stop” (964). O’Brien had never supported the war, yet he was being drafted into it, he chose to disobey the government and drive north. O’Brien was afraid of dying “in the wrong war” in which he was given no choice but to fight in. Thoreau would agree that O’Brien owed it to himself to avoid the draft of a government that he did not support. O’Brien’s actions were justified and venturing towards Canada in a desperate effort to avoid the draft of a war he did not believe in was warranted.
Citizens are obligated to rebel in every way against an unjust government that they do not intend to support. However, their efforts to “refuse allegiance” may all be for naught, as Thoreau emphasizes. In revulsion, Thoreau speaks of the men who claim they would never assist the government that they defy, “these very men have each, directly by their allegiance, and so indirectly, at least, by their money, furnished a substitute” (945). He states that those who declare opposition to the government are yet aiding the cause by paying the very taxes that supply the soldiers. In a contemporary context, if a…