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Civil Disobedience: Cost of Change

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Aila Pena Dr. Schuetze-Coburn Contemporary Composition, Period 5 March 4, 2013 Civil Disobedience: The cost of change More than 40,000 strong activists from the Sierra Club protested at the White House to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. They protested because they the extraction of tar sand oil and moving it from Canada to Texas will pollute the groundwater in the surface (Hammel). Civil disobedience is “the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power” (Civil Disobedience).

Throughout history, civil disobedience was a way to get the people’s attention that the government’s idea is immoral and unfair. It is a way to make a change in law or policy and to take action in a non-violent resistance. The act of civil disobedience is effective in our society, for example, Mohandas Gandhi protest against the British rule for India’s independence, Martin Luther King, Jr. ’s civil rights action, and the Sierra Club protest to neglect the Keystone XL pipeline.

These titles,"On the Relation of the Individual to the State," "Resistance to Civil Government," Civil Disobedience," and "A Yankee in Canada with Anti-Slave and Reform Papers,” have different title but all of them have the same concept. Henry David Thoreau’s concept of civil disobedience started at the Mexican-American war. He refused to pay taxes because he knows the taxes are going to the war and slavery. His action resulted being put in jail. In his focus of his beliefs in slavery and the war, he wrote an essay known as “Civil Disobedience. ” According to Thoreau, the main idea of civil disobedience is about “unjust laws exist” (203).

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His essay means that sometimes the government make laws that are injustice and it is the people duty or right to stop the law that the government made. He explained what of civil disobedience is and how the people have the right to oppose an immoral state of the government. “Civil Disobedience” has two principles: first is the power of authority and second is the right of the people to disobey the unjust laws (Civil Disobedience-The History of the Concept). For many centuries, it had a great impact was and still is an important role around the world. Over the years, the Indians were furious and angry at the British authorities.

Tensions rose between both the Indians and the British government due to the fight for the country and independence. A leader of the independence movement rose in India, Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi perfected civil disobedience by using non-violent revolution and was influenced by Thoreau’s concept about civil disobedience. Example of Gandhi’s non-violent resistance, Gandhi’s form of nonviolent resistance was to influenced the Indians to refuse buying British goods and make their own product (Gandhi). The Indians got the British’s attention that they are going to be a problem economically.

After many protest and mass demonstrations by Gandhi and the Indians, it caused them many innocent lives such as the Amristar Massacre. The British made a salt law, it means that they are the only one who can produce and sell salts. The Salt March was the key that change the Indians to their new modern life : On April 5, 1930 Gandhi and his satyagrahis reached the coast. After prayers were offered, Gandhi spoke to the large crowd. He picked up a tiny lump of salt, breaking the law. Within moments, the satyagrahis followed Gandhi's passive defiance, picking up salt everywhere along the coast.

A month later, Gandhi was arrested and thrown into prison, already full with fellow protestors. The Salt March started a series of protests, closing many British shops and British mills. [... ] The world embraced the satyagrahis and their non-violence, and eventually enabled India to gain their freedom from Britain. (Benner) The protest brought down the British’s economy which caused the British government to leave the country. They gained their equality, freedom and independence. His protest drew the attention of millions of people around the world and influenced many countries to fight for what is right and moral.

The most famous leader of civil rights movement is Martin Luther King, Jr. and the man who fought for the civil rights of the African-American people. He used a non-violent method to gained and protected the rights of African-American. It started on the refusal of buying at Alabama and refusal of seating at the back of the bus. One of the well known march he did was “more than 250,000 protesters to Washington, DC, where King delivered his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech in which he envisioned a world where people were no longer divided by race” (Tutu).

Many civil rights protesters supported his belief that all race should have equality, freedom and justice. As Tutu continues to explain, he concluded that the “Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act in 1964. ” It was a breakthrough for the African-American because it was a law that approved Martin Luther King’s goal to protect their rights. It became an American tradition to use civil disobedience in hundreds and hundreds of different movements. There are two sides in the controversy of Keystone XL Pipeline: TransCanada vs Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline because they believe that it is the reason for climate change and the destruction of the environment. The tar sand oil also known as the dirtiest oil will be extract from the ground like we dig deep through our closet to find the clothes we want to wear. TransCanada believe that their pipeline will not hurt the environment and the president stated: "the oil sands represent only one-tenth of 1 percent of global greenhouse emissions" (TransCanada Says Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Would Have No Measurable Effect on Global Warming).

He argues to the protesters that the pipeline will only cause a little of gas emissions in the atmosphere. But the club is still not persuaded and still accepted the fact that it is a hazard. They are still resisting in a nonviolent method. Some Sierra Club members were arrested because “activists have placed themselves onto the north-facing fence of the White House to protest [... ] has cuffed himself onto the fence” (48 Arrested at White House Fence in Opposition to Keystone XL). The act of the Sierra Club got the newspapers, American people and Obama’s attention.

It is delaying the decision of President Obama and the State Department to approve or reject it. Another one reason why it is effective because they persuaded Obama to thwart: “Obama said he will use executive authority to cut greenhouse gas pollution if Congress fails to act” (TransCanada Says Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Would Have No Measurable Effect on Global Warming). The protest made a change on persuading Obama even though the decision is still unknown by the State Department. In many occasions, civil disobedience have been effective throughout history and in the modern time.

Civil disobedience is about people using violent and non-violent method to state that a law, demand and concept of the government is unfair. It is the first time that the Sierra Club done the act of civil disobedience and it took them more than 100 years to be where they’re at now. I predict that the Sierra Club will be successful in their goal to stop the tar sand oil project. They show potential hazard to our nature. They will also persuade the honorable President Barack Obama to make green jobs and use clean energy. Not that they will only succeed but they will also be an important event in the 21st century. The Works Cited 48 Arrested at White House Fence In Opposition to Keystone XL. " Tar Sands Blockade. Tar Sands Blockade, 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013. Benner, Alana. "The Gandhi Salt March. " Gandhi Salt March: 1930. The Web Chronology Project, 12 Sept. 2003. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. "Civil Disobedience - The History Of the Concept. " N. p. , n. d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. "Civil Disobedience. " Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. Gandhi. Dir. Richard Attenborough. Perf. Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Candice Bergen. RCA/Columbia Home Video, 1983. VHS. Hammel, Paul. "Pros and Cons of Keystone XL Pipeline Aired One Last Time - Omaha. com. Omaha. com. N. p. , 5 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. Thoreau, Henry David. “Civil Disobedience. ” 11th Grade Contemporary Composition Course. Ed. Los Angeles Unified School District. Los Angeles: LAUSD Secondary Literacy Branch, 2009. 203. Print. "TransCanada Says Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Would Have No Measureable Effect on Global Warming. " Washington Post. Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. Tutu, Desmond. "Champion, Martin Luther King, Jr, Civil Rights Movement: United for Human Rights. " Champion, Martin Luther King, Jr, Civil Rights Movement: United for Human Rights. United for Human Rights, n. d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

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