Henry Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience illustrates his perspective on the prevalence of an individual’s conscience and personal moral standpoints over the majority’s law and opinion. The author’s acceptance of the principle “that government is best which governs least” could have implications for his involvement in protests if he was alive today (Thoreau, 2012, p. 330). Being clearly opposed to the American government’s intrusion into its citizens’ personal lives, he could be involved in protests surrounding the issues of personal beliefs, including those of minority groups, going against the nation’s needs. Thoreau (2012) is critical towards “a government in which the majority rules in all cases,” which implies the need for justice and the freedom of will expression for minority populations (p. 331). Therefore, it is likely that the author would be involved in protests if he was our contemporary.
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The kind of causes and protests that Thoreau would be involved in is a thought-provoking question. Even without knowing about Thoreau’s beliefs regarding the limits of personal freedom, it can be assumed that he would be supportive of various protest actions aimed at expanding individuals’ self-identification opportunities. For Thoreau (2012), “being regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined” is almost insulting, which points at his preference towards free and conscious self-determination (p. 339). This position would probably make particular causes and actions, for instance, events to promote gender self-identification and the protection of children from religious propaganda, of interest to the author. Also, he supports anti-war moods and opposes the use of human bodies as assets. From his perspective, “wooden people” in law enforcement and defense agencies “have the same sort of worth as horses and dogs” (Thoreau, 2012, p. 331). Based on this, apart from personal freedom matters, he would probably encourage modern anti-war movements’ protests and actions to reconsider and redistribute the country’s military budget. Therefore, Thoreau’s views would make him active in promoting justice.
Thoreau, H. D. (2012). On the duty of civil disobedience. In D. Hennessy (Ed.), Classics of American literature (Vol. 1) (pp. 330-345). Broward College.