Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoreau’s passage analyzation

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“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think we should be men first, and subjects afterwards” -Thoreau

In this passage, Thoreau is expressing how he thinks people commonly think and act. He’s saying that it is more important to develop respect for what is right, rather than respect for what is law. If this is not true, then he is saying your conscience will be very useless because you would never need it if you always put the law in front of your own morals. Thoreau believes that people shouldn’t ignore their own thoughts and ideas of morality in order to go along with everything in the government.

I agree with the ideas that Thoreau is trying to express in this passage. He makes it very clear that he thinks people ignore their conscience. Your conscience is given to you for a reason and it seems pretty ridiculous if people ignore what they believe is morally right, for the purpose of pleasing everyone else and not appearing to be different from the majority. For the most part, I believe our government is run and set up in a very successful and sufficient manner for the people it governs, but there will always be some aspects that one will not agree with or will think is unjust. If people don’t act on their feelings and beliefs sometimes, then their point will never be made and their opinions will never be heard. The purpose of our government is to represent the people. If those people with different opinions don’t speak up then their lives will be that much less satisfying to them because they will live their lives as followers in fear of being different, instead of doing what is right and being heard.

When connecting Thoreau’s passage and philosophy to real life situations I was able to understand what his point of view was. When people have too much respect for the law rather than their own beliefs, it causes people to do many unfair things. For example, in war soldiers are shaped into “machines” by the government and they are not given the opportunity to exercise their moral sense. In a way they are treated just like dogs. But then you look at how our government views our soldiers and you see that they are looked at perfect examples of good citizens to our country. This sets it up to seem like the less moral sense you use in life, the more you are considered a good citizen in this country. For the few people who do actually put their conscience to use, they are looked at as enemies who are only trying to defy the government. The question in the passage Thoreau wrote therefore appears again in my head; “Why has every man a conscience then?”

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