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Martin Luther King Junior used the direct action method effectively. He lived in a society that valued the whites and ignored the black American citizens. The human rights rules in Birmingham were selective. He had to lead his people and those who believed in his American dream to fight against selective justice.
The role of civil disobedience in contemporary society
Socrates was a great philosopher of his time. His ideals became useful in our contemporary society. He did not see the need to give up philosophy for the chance to live a few more years. Upon his conviction he was given a chance to choose the kind of sentence he thought befitted him. He would have opted for exile to save his life but he chose to die for his course.
In contemporary society most governments are democratically elected. The laws are made and passed by people through their elected representatives. The courts exist to protect and interpret the laws. The media is used to relay information.
Civil disobedience has a role in contemporary society. It helps to force the ruling class to make a decision. It creates tension in the mind that coerces an individual to take direct action towards seeking redress of the problem.
The whole essence of civil disobedience is to answer the question, “what is the morally right thing to do?” It is not about what is advantageous or what is pleasing. Socrates chose to suffer death at the hands of his accusers because he did not want to be seen running away from his philosophical thought.
Direct action also seeks to create room for another chance at negotiation. Once the authority feels threatened by the civil disobedience, they start opening up for discussion.
Workers unions can also settle for direct action if the legal and political solutions are not available to the concerns of the workers. When fighting an economic injustice consumer groups may discover that some of the merchants are corrupt. They bribe the courts and politicians to pass laws that favor them. Consumers are left with nothing else to do but to demonstrate so that their voice can be heard.
Contemporary society and the acts of civil disobedience
Contemporary society should tolerate acts of Civil disobedience. It seems the most unwise thing to do today. But if it is the only way that a people can get solutions to deliberate injustices caused to citizens then it ceases to be unwise.
There are so many social injustices happening in communist countries. The courts cannot solve the problems because they eat and dine with the molesting regime. The media cannot voice their concerns because of stringent state rules. The only option becomes civil disobedience.
Higher goals require hard choices. One must adopt a life style that enhances purity. When Socrates knew that he was going to die, he was not afraid of the afterlife. He was even happy to die because he knew his actions were good and right. He had made peace with his gods.
It is true that there have been some economic, political and social advancement. But this has not been felt in all countries fully. Even some 1st first world countries have not yet fully come to terms with the current generation’s appetite for true information.
The unexamined life is not worth living for men
It is a life without purpose. One should live a higher life if one knows that life is eternal. As Socrates made a choice knowing that life is eternal, one must search his or her soul to determine the higher values of life.
The natural law is innate in every man. One can choose to live doing what is good for others. As mentioned earlier, man’s choice rules his life. The higher values include maintaining and spreading peace. It is also the choice to live peaceably with others.
One must examine one’s spiritual life carefully. It determines ones future. One must also fight to ensure social justice is maintained. If human rights are supposed to be enjoyed by all citizens, then there has to be equal distribution of wealth and state resources.
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One must stop waiting for things to happen. A patient is not called a patient because he waits for a doctor. He is called a patient because he is sick and needs medical attention. The initiative that this person takes to visit a hospital plus the urgency to meet a doctor is the same zeal one must have.
It is understood that the oppressor cannot just wake up and decide not to be an oppressor. The oppressed person must fight for that right. It is the persistent effort of the oppressed that enables him to attain freedom. Freedoms of mind, freedom from slavery, and independence have all come with a fight.
Another area one can change is the desire to live with others as brothers and sisters. The color of the skin does not make anyone lesser than the other. The dialect that one speaks does not give superior influence over the other.