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Disobediance as a Form of Protest

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Human Rights
Wordcount: 1398 words Published: 18th May 2020

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“Zinn’s body of work that examines the role disobedience plays in the human potential to contribute to the common good. Over forty years ago, Howard Zinn identified the problem as not one of civil disobedience, but of civil ‘obedience’” (The Magnificence of Getting in Trouble: Finding Hope in Classroom Disobedience and Resistance,  p61-90). Obedience can take place in a society that needs it or never at all. With disobedience in society it has a controlling factor over the people in the society and it is influential over many people. According to the oxford dictionary, Disobedience is the withholding of obedience; neglect or refusal to obey; violation of a command by omitting to conform to it, or of a prohibition by acting in defiance of it; an instance of this. With extensive research and personal evaluation, disobedience is when you don’t confine with a superior beings laws or rules to create change. Disobedience has an origin development that dates back to an early age and has developed in different meanings over time. With use of the word over time the definition had different manipulative meanings whether it was a personal viewed definition or general definition that was considered to be in negation or in confirmation of the words meaning. The word used in today’s society has altered and is in a compare and contrast state with other words used in today’s society. Experiments conducted over time have shown the differences between what we consider to be moral of disobedience or not. When the solution comes together and the end goal is reached, the society should be found at peace. The society reaches a point in which everyone is to be social and loyal and not disobedient to the law. If a mistake is made or it is shown that the leader could show weakness, there are in a vulnerable state  is shown that there is a weak power in the society due to the disobedience there could be a tyranny or change in power right away which could result in violence.  With the use of trial and error it can be acknowledged that individuals should be able to feel that they are allowed to show force towards a rebellious or supportive issue. With many people believing that disobedience is a way of looking at a person because it justifies whether they will have good morals towards a general subject or not.

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People have been practicing civil disobedience as a form of defiance since 470-399  B.C.E. The word ‘disobedience’ as we know it first appeared in late Middle English. The word having been derived from the old French term ‘desobedience’, who’s roots date back even further to the alteration of the ecclesiastical Latin word ‘inoboedientia’. Throughout history the term civil disobedience has had real life examples shown by representative leaders. Stories of rebellion, from the biblical tale of Adam and Eve to the civil-rights activism of Martin Luther King Jr., have occurred countless times in history and have been recorded in history in many ways. We as a society are taught from a young age that obedience reaps rewards. Parents use reinforcements and punishments to firmly implement an obedient pattern of behavior in children.  Numerous teenagers see subjection as frail and would prefer not to surrender their want for independence. They crave autonomy.

The purpose of civil disobedience is to grab an officials attention for change.

It is not to be confused for criminal disobedience. Criminal disobedience isn’t for the common good of others; it is used to benefit themselves. Robbing a bank or killing is not a form of civil disobedience. In the event that it harms others, it isn’t civil. Civil disobedience is often confused with civil resistance. Although both have common objectives, there is a key difference between the two. Civil resistance is protesting the standing laws in some form, without actually breaking any laws already in place. Civil disobedience, however, is a protest of laws in which those protesting break the law in the process, thus facing consequences for their actions. It can be said that those who take part in civil disobedience often face much larger risks than those who participate in civil resistance, although participants of either form of protest have the same ultimate goal in mind.


Protesters during the civil rights movement overstepped laws managing general assembly in order to point to the obscenity of segregation. The merciless response of civil authorities captivated the country to the revolutions of Jim Crow. Martin luther king states, “The effectiveness of mass nonviolent protests in the South did not result in charges in the North and the role of urban riots as a social phenomena. It failed to see that nonviolent marches in the South were forms of rebellion.White America stopped murder, but that is not the same thing as ordaining brotherhood; nor is the ending of lynch rule the same thing as inaugurating justice” (Leafgren, Sheri). He believed civil disobedience to be the most elevated type of lawfulness which could help carry human-made laws in congruity with divine law. He accepted that these practices must be embraced for the correct reasons by the right individuals. A second key moment was the progression of sit-ins by laborers in steel and auto processing plants. This included laborers impeding creation just by possessing a vital area of a plant and not complying to move: an exceptionally viable strategy that was likewise less violent than the picket lines and was later utilized by social equality and anti-Vietnam war campaigners.


Kristalin Diaz used this word for change. In February 14th 2018, there was a mass shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the building where she was learning math, a man named Nikolas Cruz came in the building and shot 10 people in his path. Thankfully the man didn’t come into her classroom. However, the sound of gunshots that pierced her ears and the fear in everyone’s eyes struck her. This experience left her with PTSD. She didn’t let that fear stop her and she began to help start a protest for restricting guns. The schools administration threatened to suspend students if they walked off school property to protest. Students knew they would have to pay that consequence in order to be heard. Schools all over the county got up and left their classes to protest. Seeing how this brought the community together to create change. This event brought a whole district together and many other schools around the world to use disobedience in the right way.

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The term disobedience is used in informative ways as the audience could interpret it in multiple meanings. From being used to describe a young child refusing to follow his mother’s instructions, to a wronged member of society defying his or her tyrannical oppressors; disobedience has a broad yet powerful definition: the refusal to obey instructions given by one’s superior. Along with civil disobedience the government is seldom useful and receives its power from the majority because they are the most powerful group and not because they hold the most legitimate point of view. He argues that the first obligation of people is to do what they think is right and not to respect the law dictated by the majority. When a government is unfair, people should refuse to follow the law and stand out from the government as a whole. A person is not obliged to devote his life to eliminating evils from the world, but is obliged not to participate in such vices. This involves not being a member of an unfair institution (such as the government). Thoreau further argues that the United States meets the criteria of an unjust practice of aggressive warfare.

Works cited

  • Leafgren, Sheri, “The Magnificence of Getting in Trouble: Finding Hope in Classroom Disobedience and Resistance,” eric.ed.gov, Spr-Sum 2009, Web, 19 October 2019
  • King jr, Martin Luther, “The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement,” spssi.org, January 1968, Web, 23 October 2019


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