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Unformatted text preview: the majority enacts as itself just. The right to make law does not guarantee that the decision is rightly made; and while the citizen submits in his conduct to the judgment of democratic author he does not submit his judgment to it.2 And if in his judgment the enactments of the majority exceed certain bounds of injustice, the citizen may consider civil disobedience. For we are not required to accept the majority's acts unconditionally and to acquiesce in the denial of our and others' liberties WE ARE MORALLY OBLIGATED BOTH TO COOPERATE WITH GOOD AND TO NOT WITH EVIL The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, in the speech "THE MEANING OF NON-VIOLENCE." Now nonviolence says another thing. It says that one must never allow himself to reach the point that he is willing to cooperate with evil. This brings out one of the most difficult aspects of the non-violent, direct action movement. This is the whole question of civil disobedience. This is what civil disobedience means in the final analysis: That non-co-operation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is co-operation with good. This was what Henry David Thoreau said in eloquent terms in his essay on civil disobedience. Now I know that we are criticized in our movement a great deal on this point and I can understand the criticism at times because we have been telling people to obey the law-and yet we disobey the law at points. We are saying to the people all over the country that everybody should obey the supreme court's decision of 1954 and yet down in Birmingham Alabama, we disobeyed the local laws and then the state court issued an injunction. How do you justify all of this? These are legitimate questions and I think they must be answered. The persons who raise these questions must realize that there are two types of laws: just laws and unjust laws. I would be the first to say that men must obey just laws, that we have not only a civil duty but a moral obligation to obey just laws. And I would go on to say that when a law is unjust we have a moral and an ethical responsibility to take a stand against th...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13