Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Civil Disobedience

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay in 1849 entitled Resistance to Civil Government that has survived the ages and is today generally known as On Civil Disobedience. It's basic tenant is that the individual has a solemn duty to do what is right, even if that is in conflict with the law. Thoreau pointed out that while the majority may rule by virtue of their numbers, there is nothing that guarantees that a majority will automatically have the virtues of wisdom and justice. Government, regardless of how it came into being, can and does make mistakes - and it can and does work in direct opposition to what is morally and ethically right. Witness the Bush Oil War.

Thoreau felt so deeply in the absolute necessity of civil disobedience, that he went to jail for his beliefs. Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr, both disciples of Henry David Thoreau, also allowed their consciences to lead them to jail.

The world is becoming a rougher stage for those used to garnering respect just for having a title. A couple of days ago I mentioned two shoe throwers: the one in Iraq that launched two shoes at President Bush, and the protester at Cambridge University who threw a shoe at the Premier of China. Those guys probably lacked a background in competitive sports because both missed their targets. (Of course, if they had been student athletes they would have likely learned the fine art of obedience from their coaches.)

Enter the ladies. Yesterday a twenty-five-year old woman lobbed a shoe at Benny Dagan, the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden, as he was speaking at Stockholm University. She and a male companion had issues with what they saw as the militaristic policies of Israel. The lady managed to hit her target in the chest. (Score one for the women!) As she was being arrested, the young lady asked police to please return her red Nike! (Her male friend launched two books at the speaker, but he, alas, missed.) Both were later released without the broken bones or cigarette burns that would have been standard fare in an Iraqi prison.

But those were just simple flying objects aimed at public gas bags. No harm, no real foul - other than minor deflation of a few egos. None took aim at the most sacred of holy cows - property.

So enter Tim DeChristopher with his plan to mess with the Bush administration's rush to lease scenic lands in Utah for oil exploration before the new administration could move in and save what should continue to be our public heritage. The 27-year-old University of Utah student showed up at the auction for the leases and significantly ran up all of the bids, even though he had no money. He actually won several of the bids. The government got all red-faced and blustery, but the ballsy student was not contrite. He said he was prepared to go to jail for his actions. (Apparently many who were forced to bid more than they wanted would like to rebid, but they are afraid that if they allow their expensive properties go back on the auction block, the Obama administration will halt the sales. So, if they keep their ill-gotten gains, it will be at the inflated prices.) Poor, babies!

Way to go, Mr. DeChristopher! Thoreau, Gandhi, and King would all be proud - and that ain't bad company to be keeping! You have preserved some of America's scenic wilderness, and the oil is still there if our grandchildren truly need it. Your service to our nation is appreciated beyond measure - at least by me!

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