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Unformatted text preview: Civil Disobedience in its Most Spiritual Context In America, civil disobedience is often thought of as a political entity. One of the nation’s oldest examples of civil disobedience dates back to Henry David Thoreau’s protest of the Mexican War through his writings and refusal to pay the poll tax. In cases like Thoreau’s, even though he went to jail for a brief period of time, his daily life virtually remained the same after his release. But what happens when the concept of civil disobedience transcends political boundaries and comes into contact with the religious aspect of life, as well? The result is a much more devout form of civil disobedience with an energy among its participants that feels unworldly. This form involves not only protesting unjust laws, but always searching for truth within you and practicing mental and physical non-violence. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi used this spiritual definition of civil disobedience to free the African-American and Indian peoples from tyranny and unjust rule which dominated every aspect of their existence. Mahatma Gandhi saw civil disobedience as a tool to be true to oneself and God, while achieving justice for Indian people who were ruled by the British Empire. He called his more spiritual definition of civil disobedience Satyagraha. Satyagraha is about never harming others in the pursuit of truth. According to Gandhi’s view, the journey is just as important as the destination. The means and ends are inseparable. He explained this concept using the example of a watch, “If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay for it; and if I want a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and, according to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation (Gandhi 6)” Satyagraha was necessary to the Indian cause; civil disobedience and passive...
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This note was uploaded on 05/07/2008 for the course WR 10 taught by Professor Solomon during the Spring '08 term at BU.
- Spring '08