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Disobedience and Its Influence on Society

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Who knows where our society would be without individual defiance? In the past, there have been a number of advocates of disobedience, that support the future of societal progression. These advocates were the only ones willing to take a stand against the injustices when no one else would. According to Oscar Wilde, “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress can be made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” Disobedience is not something that should be seen as reckless. Without it, our society might not be the way that it is today. Many would see disobedience in a negative sense, but when it is used for a higher purpose, it is vital to the progression in our society. Disobedience can be seen in a number of different ways, but the most prominent could be considered the disagreement between two or more individuals. By human nature, people voice their opinions even if it is not always agreeable. Like Oscar Wilde mentioned, it is of human nature to be disobedient. Without the voice of others, we would be stuck living in the same ways of the past. 

“Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we succeeded or shall we transgress them at once”. What Henry David Thoreau is trying to say is that people have a choice to either watch the injustices happen in front of them or take action and make a change. He also states “A minority is powerless when conformed to the majority” (Thoreau 188). There can not be a change in the society when everyone is conforming to the same idea that is unjust. Without someone sticking up for the minority people will be stuck in a cycle of living old ways. When conforming to the majority, there will no longer be a minority. With no one ignoring the majority, there is no individuality. “Else, if you could be a man, speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls…” (Emerson 191). It takes a brave soul to stand alone against everyone else with opposing ideas, and to make a change of what they think is wrong. Even when there is no one else to agree, it is important to make the idea known. “To be great is to be misunderstood” (Emerson 191). Those who have new ideas, which seem to be outside the norm of society, are misunderstood to be incompetent because their ideas are not like the rest. In reality, they are more competent than the rest of the society because they realize that the ideas that everyone is living by needs to be changed. 

In the past, women seemed to be misunderstood when they were fighting for their rights. Some believed that women didn’t deserve more rights, and needed to be content with the minimal rights that they already had. Without the disobedience of the suffragettes, there would have been no cultural change for women. Emily Davison, a suffragette, was often thrown into jail due to causing public disturbances. Even with her multiple arrests, she continued to fight long and hard for the rights she knew all women deserved. To protest for the rights of women, she threw herself in front of the Kings horse in the Epsom Derby, but she later died due to her injuries. Even though justice was not served until years later after she died, she never gave up when she was alive. Davison knew she had to make a change in the society, and she died fighting for her rights. She was not the only suffragette out there, there were more to come to help continue her fight for the rights that women deserved. 

In the eyes of some people, disobedience can be seen as a disgrace; it would be chaotic if everyone went rebelling against the laws and breaking them. In order to achieve justice, laws need to be broken to a certain extent. Henry David Thoreau in Civil Disobedience stated “… but if it is of such a nature that is required you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say break the law.” If injustice is served, it is worth breaking the law, to bring forward the justice that is needed. For example, Rosa Parks, the brave African American woman, sat in the “Whites Only” part of the front of the bus when it was not meant for her. When she was asked to move, she refused, which ended up with her being arrested and thrown into jail for not listening to a white person. Due to this incident, a spark was ignited in the Civil Rights movement. Parks knew that she had just as much of a right to sit in the front of the bus as anyone else. Her disobedience caused a whole boycott against the busses. She was willing to break an unjust law, in order to stand up for herself and her rights. 

Many would see disobedience in a negative sense, but when it is used for a higher purpose it is vital to the progression of our society. Without disobedience we would be stuck living the same way as past generations, there would be no one to stand up to the majority, and there would not be any sort of cultural change. Disobedience does not need to be seen as reckless, but as something that helps our society grow and prosper. In a way, it helps piece everything together. Individual defiances helped shape our society to be what it is today.  

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