Romanticism and Civil Disobedience

Thoreau, Gandhi, and Esther

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Deep Thoughts

Introduction

There are a few beliefs that have been passed down from Romanticists or Transcendentalists, such as Idealism, Individualism, Optimism, and following one's Intuition.

Optimism

Optimism is the belief that good must win over evil. Optimists have hope about the future. What I think is that optimists think more on the positive side, which is why they take things in the best way. It's really up to the person if something positive happened or may happen. For example, if you miss your flight, you can either take it as a horrible thing, or think about what good outcome there is to it. You can mope around, complaining about it, or you can think about something you can do while you wait for your next flight. I believe people should be optimistic. When they have hopefulness for their future, then they will have confidence in what they are doing. I am an optimist for others, because I know they are capable of doing what their hearts desire. I've been practicing being an optimist for myself, too, and I feel like I am doing good in doing so. I will try my best to be optimistic when I am in college. I know anything is possible if we continue with hope.

Individualism

Individualism is the belief that the freedom of individuals to act out their heart is more important than the government. I have noticed that society, including the government, has expectations of how people should be. They expect us to be good or do good for others. When a person does what she or he feels like doing, they are often judged by many. Everyone should do what is best for themselves. To me, a person who thinks or does what they desire is a part of individualism. This way, one's feelings, thoughts, and beliefs are at comfort. I am an individualist. Not everyone is the same. People have the right to do something their heart wants. For example, a girl's parents want her to become successful in a field, such as a doctor or lawyer like her parents. Although she wants to do what she is told by her parents, she has a passion for art and is really good at it. So, following individualism, the artist tells her parents that she is applying to an art school, doing what she really loves to do.

Idealism

Idealism is the belief that reality is not out there in material objects, but really is our ideas about things. An Idealist usually has an idea, and they go deeper into the idea without reality in the way. I admit: I am an extreme idealist. I think about how things are, and then go on thinking about how it could and should be. Sometimes I think about an object, and realize what it does, how useful it is. For example, gravity. Without gravity, objects would not be in place. My room would be 10 times messier than it is now. Gravity holds everything in place. And I can go on about gravity. Idealism helps us find meaning and importance in things. An idealist goes deeper into an idea other than the material objects.

Intuition

When making a decision or planing out what to do, one can go with their own intuition or logic. Logic is based on facts and knowing something for sure. Intuition is the ability to understand something without thinking through it. It's like knowing the answer, going with your "gut" or heart feeling. I think, when we go with our intuition, it's the only way we can discover or learn about what you did right or wrong. Most of the time, I always want to follow my intuition, knowing what is right. I believe (depending on the situation) we should do what we feel or think we should do. You're taking a test, for example. Answer with logic; and if you can't remember or don't know how to solve a question, go with your "gut" feeling. Although, when it comes to your feelings... ALWAYS go with your intuition, not logic. Feelings are connected to intuition, because without feelings, you would not have intuition.

Influential Leaders

Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is the purposeful and peaceful violation of certain laws. It is like not following the law, because they don't see it as a good thing or like trying to show their claim against a law. Also, it includes the belief that ordinary people have the responsibility and power to better their political system and their society. Both Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi followed this practice.

Henry David Thoreau

During the Romanticism Era, Henry David Thoreau was an influential writer and a non-violent protesting leader. In "Civil Disobedience", Thoreau wrote about his thoughts on the government. He had said, "government is best which governs not at all." In other words, he believes the government is good, when there's no government at all. To support his claim, Thoreau explained how the government is not good, for it does not usually achieve desired results, can abuse power, and the people taught each other (not the government). He believed people are overshadowed by the government, which does not know what is best for others. As an individualist, Thoreau thought each person should do what he or she thinks is right rather than what the law says.


I would think how it is not fair the government has more power, as well as has power over the people. As I read "Civil Disobedience," I became more in-depth on the idea of how the government is unjust. I would go on, agreeing with Thoreau's simple opinions, from how people expect someone to lead, to how the government is like a bunch of mischievous kids. In "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau claimed, "When an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain [unmoving] to make way for the other, but both... spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, overshadows and destroys the other." I strongly agree with his explanation of how the government grows and grows, overshadowing people's needs to flourish. Most of the time, people want to go with their intuition, but the government doesn't allow them to. I do wish that the government could stop being ignorant and do what's best for all the people, including the government.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the recent non-violent protesting leaders in India. He is known as the primary leader of India's independence movement and who formed a non-violent civil disobedience philosophy that influenced the world. He did and made choices that would better the country of India, for India was not entirely free from the unjust rule of Britain. In India, it was illegal to get their own salt, sell salt, or buy salt from the sellers, but to buy salt from the British. Gandhi got many to follow him for a protest, the Salt March. He presented a speech, On the Eve of Historic Dandi March, the day before the Salt March, for he thought it would be his last speech. The significance of this speech was for the people to protest to show they can lead and have their own government. There were a few examples of how the Indians can protest that Gandhi stated, such as refusing to support or work for the British government. Gandhi believed that the non-violent protests would help India gain independence from the British rule. During the Salt March, the protesters stayed non-violent while the British soldiers did not. This showed the great strength and power the Indians had.


The speech, "On the Eve of Historic Dandi March" tells how Mahatma Gandhi desired to get a greater government by non-violent protest. His idea that non-violent protest is the best choice is really good. I feel as though I agree with most everything Gandhi says or does, for he is a very peaceful, wise, and trustworthy man. He recognized that the problem with British rule should come to a stop by non-violent protests. I think it depends on the conflict if there should be a violent or non-violent protest. If the conflict is getting out of hand and is running out of time to stop it, violence is acceptable. For example, if there was another country coming over to America taking people's possessions, then they start hurting Americans. Soon, they start killing Americans. A quick way to end this conflict is by violence. Otherwise, I believe, agreeing with Gandhi, that nonviolence is the best solution to any conflict or problem when the conflict or problem that doesn't get any worse than it already is.

Conclusion

Henry David Thoreau's ideas about individuality and changes in the government are quite different from Mahatma Gandhi's. He thought the government is inadequate, that isn't good everyone. Thoreau did not want any government at all, whereas Gandhi wanted a better government. India's government was unjust, and Gandhi thought it would improve if India were to control their own government. Despite the difference between their thoughts on the government, Thoreau and Gandhi both cared about the conscience on "inner voice." Both protesting leaders stood up for what they believed in. As Gandhi said, "Without action, you aren't going anywhere."

Sources

"Mahatma Gandhi Quote on Gandhi Jayanti." Photograph. Imagefully. n.p., n.d., Web. 10 Dec. 2015.


"Mahatma Gandhi Biography." Biography.com Editors. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 10 Dec 2015.