how did martin luther king jr feel about civil disobedience
8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
At the heart of the American character, evident since our nation’s birth, is a seeming paradox: Americans take pride in our self-image as a republic of laws and no less pride in our propensity toward righteous disobedience. The “very definition of a Republic,” John Adams remarked, “is ‘an Empire of Laws, and not of men’”—words he wrote in the spring of 1776, even as his compatriots were engaged in an armed uprising that they as a people, with Adams’s own assistance, would shortly thereafter declare to be revolutionary and justified by a law higher than any human law. [REF] Acutely aware of the turbulent history of republics, [REF] America’s revolutionary Founders hoped that Americans would prove exceptional in our lawfulness: lawful both in our obedience and, where need be, in our disobedience.
It is only conjecturing that the civil disobedience employed by King was a result of his awareness of his mortality; however, the tone in his letter is obviously one of frustration and impatience. Clearly, King believed that the act of civil disobedience should be preceded by some form of injustice. A democratic society could not claim to be democratic if some of its citizens were being treated differently under the law. Segregation, according to King, was illegal and unjust. Since segregation was the law of the land, the Negros had to abide by this unjust law or face legal consequences. If a law is unjust, citizens, according to Martin Luther King Jr., are not obligated to obey it. At this point, citizens should exercise civil disobedience in order to gain the attention to draw the lawmakers into negotiation.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and philosopher John Rawls offer different justifications of civil disobedience. According to both natural law theory and contemporary consent theory, a legitimate act of civil disobedience may be required by the law. This paper will explain the conditions under which disobedience is justified, according to Rawls. Additionally, an explanation of the legitimate means of disobedience according to Martin Luther King Jr. will be discussed. Finally, thoughts about civil disobedience and violence will be addressed.
Second, being arrested in front of the White House helped make it clearer that President Obama should be the focus of anti-pipeline activism. For once Congress isn’t in the picture. The situation couldn’t be simpler: the president, and the president alone, has the power either to sign the permit that would take the pipeline through the Midwest and down to Texas (with the usual set of disastrous oil spills to come) or block it.
Now, however, people are now coming to understand – as we hoped our demonstrations would highlight – that it poses a danger to the whole planet as well. After all, it’s the Earth’s second largest pool of carbon, and hence the second-largest potential source of global warming gases after the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. We’ve already plumbed those Saudi deserts. Now the question is: Will we do the same to the boreal forests of Canada. As NASA climatologist James Hansen has made all too clear, if we do so it’s “essentially game over for the climate.” That message is getting through. Witness the incredibly strong New York Times editorial opposing the building of the pipeline that I was handed on our release from jail.
Carson, Claybourne (ed.) The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Warner Books, 1998.
These current actions continue and are outgrowths of the application of civil disobedience principles to mass actions that lead to structural change and realignment of values and morals.
Modern actions don’t focus on specific civil liberties but are often directed towards important societal concerns, for example, foreign policy and environmental protection.
He drew inspiration for his ideas from the teachings of Gandhi and Christian faith. Also, he organized nonviolent resistance in the 1950s and 1960s to fight for the legal equality of African Americans.