Monday, February 19, 2007

Civil Disobedience

I'm pretty tired right now, so I doubt I'll develop any truly cohesive thoughts, but I am nevertheless in the mood to write. My reading lately is divided between too many avenues, but nevertheless, I find much of it thought-provoking. Most especially, I am very interested in what I read in "Civil Disobedience," by Henry David Thoreau. I've never read Thoreau before, though I've wanted to, always thought it would be a good idea. He has some interesting things to say about voting, which I think I like. I've gotten flak from some politically active americans for not taking much interest in elections, and though I do not quote the following to excuse my choices (such as not voting), for I do not look for excuses and I do not so far regret them, I do find what he has to say quite poignant. He talks about a respectable man who wishes to make a moral decision in his vote, but is not satisfied with the choices.

"He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. Oh for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back which you cannot pass your hand through!"

On some news show, I think on MSNBC, they were talking about Hilary Clinton. Some anti-war people, who arguably are in favor through most of the country, were arguing that Hilary should apologize for approving of the Iraq War in the beginning. I don't know that this has anything to do with the aforementioned quote, nor can I say why I find this interesting. The question on the show was whether she could win the presidency if she didn't apologize. But some were arguing that she probably would apologize, that it would raise more questions from the public and do more harm than good to her candidacy. If she apologizes, then what would we think of her? That she's wishy-washy? That she is swayed by the majority and doesn't follow her convictions? If she does not apologize, some may say she's a hypocrite, but many might not think it an issue.

Anyway, I just found it interesting. And I find it interesting how so much of politics is about image and public opinion. Thoreau says something about majority rule that I found interesting. He talked about how everyone votes according to their morals and convitions, so to speak, but when the decision comes in against their assured convictions, they accept it as just, because it is the decision of the majority. We've been brought up now in a worldview that says that if the majority agrees, then it is just. Clearly, any thinking person is capable of discerning that this is not the case. The majority of Germany went along with Hitler, approved his actions, and followed his orders. Some conscientious men and women, who stood by their convictions, did what they could to resist, taking it upon themselves to break the law, by virtue of the fact that the law was unjust.

Like I said, there's little cohesion tonight, just a bunch of thoughts mulling around in my muddled brain. But I'm sure all of this is connected somehow and quite relevant. And I'm sure if my brain was clear and I had more knowledge of history and government, I would have a lot tosay on the matter. But for now, I will have to be content to simply ponder these musings, and perhaps others will have more to say on the topic of Civil Disobedience.

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