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In essay “Civil Disobedience” Henry Thoreau introduces the concept of conscienceas a key element in monitoring both the law and the government. Being the majority and having power doesn’t mean always acting right and fair, it doesn’t come in complex. Individuals have to be aware of what is just, they can’t allow the government to deform their conscience; in other words, their biggest duty is to avoid the government which makes them the agents of injustice (Thoreau 4 – 5).
Thoreau insists that the government he spoke of is not liable to protect everyone’s rights and is insufficient when considering cases like wars and slavery (19). The essayist ties in morality with justice in his piece many times; he highlights that people are not machines and then clarifies that everyone should behave according to one’s own needs (Thoreau 19). By this statement, becomes understandable the importance of person’s conscience to live and to act right. In Thoreau’s view, if a man is free-thinking, “unwise rulers or reformers can not fatally interrupt him” (24-25).
The author believes that each individual can decide for himself/herself what the best government is, and that decision would be the first step on the way of eventually getting such kind of government (Thoreau 4). In the same time, if the person finds some process in the state immoral or offensive, he/she should refuse to do any actions supporting it. Thoreau emphasizes that unjust laws exist and citizens shouldn’t let them go and obey them, their obligation as citizens is to improve laws, to make them seem right or change them at once (12). The outcome of this strategy, most likely, would be the forming of an ideal government, the one that is faultless, successful, and harmless.
Thoreau’s opinions and criticism have strongly stated the idea of justice for minorities. He was compelled to do what was morally right rather than what was legally right. The essay is finished with the idea of respecting individuality and with reevaluating the views on traditional governing of majority.