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Synthesis paper - Essay Example

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This paper undertakes a comparative analysis of Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Civil Disobedience’ and Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’. In both texts there is a vision of adhering to higher moral laws that transcends present laws, and that are also the…
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Download file to see previous pages On the other hand, where justice is not present, then the laws cannot be followed by men who wish to live by such higher moral laws, and they have a duty to resist them without violence, even if it leads to personal suffering and jail. There is the sense in both King and Thoreau of making use of this higher inner moral compass to subvert what they see as the evils of their time, slavery and an unjust war campaign on the part of Thoreau, and the discrimination and systematic marginalization of African Americans suffering from centuries of slavery on the part of King. In both men the vision is that human laws are only to be followed where they conform to universal moral laws. The individual too and the respect given to the individual’s human rights and dignity are the proper starting points of any government crafting laws. Where society, government and the law disrespect human rights and debase individual liberties, then men have no obligation to follow those laws at all, but are free within their own individual capacities to resist the law and to go against society. This paper asserts therefore that one can read into the works of the two men the intention to lay out the foundations of moral action in society: people being able to immediately live with integrity and totally within their own individual capacities to live according to those higher moral laws. This is regardless of what is happening on the outside- regardless of whether governments and societies are enlightened or unenlightened in moral terms. The rest of the paper integrates the two writings in the context of this latter thesis (Thoreau; King).
King notes that during the time of Hitler in Germany, all of his actions were legal, but his actions were not just. The plight of the Jews in Germany has become a cliché, but worth mentioning here, in that the Jews were victims of massive ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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