Period One Discussion

This blog is one way we can extend our classroom discussion of Civil Disobedience. For those of you who have a hard time vocalizing in class, here is your chance to help your quarter discussion grade. There will be two categories of students: starters and responders. There should be no more than 5 or 6 starters; the rest of you will be responders.

(STARTERS) If you start a discussion thread, make sure your idea has not already been “taken.” Your post must set context. You may begin with a quotation from the text or an idea shared in class that you’d like to address,  followed by your insightful comments, noticings, or connections. Please be brief.

(RESPONDERS) If you respond to a discussion thread, continue the discussion; do not simply agree or disagree or reiterate. Add something more to the discussion. Please be brief. Make sure to respond to the right person!

ALL: Craft carefully– you are in an academic setting. Respect others’ opinions. Watch your tone. You can post more than once– this is a discussion :).

24 Responses to Period One Discussion

  1. Carly T. says:

    In his argument, Henry Thoreau states that “A corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience”. I believe that Thoreau states this because he believes that our government doesn’t have a conscience and that no one who runs the government has a conscience either. Earlier in his writing he mentions that the rulers are not the ones who are the smartest, but ones that are physically the strongest. He also mentions that there is no wrong or right, but instead a conscience and that the conscience determines what is right or wrong. I think that by this statement he means that the government doesn’t have a conscience because they only think if something is right or wrong, but that is only their opinion. I personally agree with Thoreau when he says this because it make sense that everyone individually has their own conscience, but when they are trying to govern something as a group it is hard to determine is something is right or wrong because everyone doesn’t think exactly the same so a conscience isn’t obtained as a whole.

    • Alexis K. Pd. 1 says:

      “Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?”

      Carly talks about how Thoreau says “that there is no wrong or right, but instead a conscience and that the conscience determines what is right or wrong.” So I found this quote particularly confusing. In the quote above, Thoreau hints that he feels governments are swayed by what “majorities” think is right or wrong instead of conscience, but how would any society know what really is right or wrong? If 99.9% of a society thinks that Choice A is right, and one person thinks it is wrong, how can we find out what “conscience” thinks is correct. Is it wrong to go with the majority? I think that everyone’s conscience is a little different, so there is no way to rely on it for decisions for the society. I think that the majority should be listened to because if they all think that way, wouldn’t it mean that their conscience’s all feel that is the right choice?

    • Raena N. says:

      When Henry Thoreau states that “a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience”, I don’t think he was judging our government. Rather, I believe he states this in order to inform Americans that they are the ones who is in charge of where this nation goes and what happens to us. He begins the piece by saying that the “government is best which governs not at all,” which suggests to me that he wants the people to become more active in our nation’s activity instead of relying heavily on our government and blaming them for everything that goes wrong in our country because in reality, it’s not their fault. As people of America, we choose who will become the next President, who goes into the Senate and House of Representatives, and what happens to us. The statement Thoreau makes about conscientious men suggests that the people run the corporation, which parallels to Americans running the government.

  2. Nicole D. Period 1 says:

    In Civil Disobedience, Henry Thoreau speaks about an issue that America has been struggling with since they were still apart of England’s rule. That fact is that government is corrupt. No matter how you want to word it, or phrase it, when it comes down to the whole, the government and a majority of the leaders have no morals. Thoreau said in his essay, “Others – as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders – serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions…” At one point in Thoreau’s essay, he calls soldiers that fight in the war “machines”, following orders, never questioning why. How can people blindly follow orders, not knowing how it can affect themselves or innocent people? How could past generations linger on the side, never making a change in this crooked government? How can we, the future generation, work to make a change in government; a monumental change that can transform politics into a government “for the people” again?

    • Cheyenne C. Period 1 says:

      Yes, i agree; The government is corrupt, but can we really go far enough to say that the leaders have no morals at all? I think that when put in such high power as they are, it is hard to follow their morals. An example is that our government decided to declare war in Iraq because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. They could have done nothing but where would we be if they decided to just leave things alone? If we didn’t go to war, it would have made us seem like we were just saying “okay” about them killing our people and destroying our cities. I believed it could have made us more susceptible to attacks by not doing anything. Does declaring war against people who attacked us unmoral? I think what we need to do is put ourselves in their shoes and realize the difficulty in making decisions for the entire country.

      • Kela K. Period 1 says:

        In regards to your comment about whether or not we should have gone to war “against people who attacked us,” I’d have to say that the issue is more complicated than retaliation against an obvious wrong. The people who carried out the attacks were part of al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization which, I believe, certainly deserves to be eradicated. My issue is with the United States’ reaction of invading Iraq, since al-Qaeda is an organization with ties in many countries, not one nation. Al-Qaeda’s purpose, as terrorists, was most likely simply to terrorize and terrify the American people, and, by reacting in the way that we did, we gave al-Qaeda exactly what they were looking for. There’s also the issue of “collateral damage” in the form of innocent people’s lives, on both side of the engagement, which, in my opinion, is never moral.

        I see our government’s decision to go to war as a distinctly immoral one, as the negative implications of their actions far outweighed the positives.

        • Cheyenne C. Period 1 says:

          After reviewing your post, I understand what your point is. I believe that this is a complicated issue, but I can’t think of any other way we should have responded. What should we have done? If we didn’t take action, then would we be less susceptible to attacks?

          • Ken K. says:

            In accordance with Cheyenne’s questions and Kela’s ideas, I believe that the choice to go to war was not immoral when considering the innocent people that have been killed by Al-Qaeda on our own soil. And let us remember that these terroristic attacks that led to thousands of deaths were all committed without negotiations from the enemy. Some people suggest that a diplomatic solution should have been used in response to Al-Qaeda, but it is clear that they have no intention of speaking terms. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, it has no rules nor country. They have been able to bypass the purpose of the United Nations vie for international peace by simply operating independently and dispersively. Thus, I’m sure if there were any other solutions to terrorism besides war or remaining neutral (open for attack and open to slaughter), those in charge of the government would have applied such a solution long ago.

            I, like Kela, believe that Al Qaeda should be “eradicated,” but how can this be possible if we simply stand by and let the terrorists bully us around? The “bad guys” result to a modern version of guerilla warfare, by not coming out in full force and instead simply attacking in hidden waves of destruction. Even the most elite and the strongest company of men will falter over time if they just let the enemy take free shots. This is why we took the war to the middle east, a place where Al-Qaeda has the most influence. With this, the U.S. is saying that it isn’t afraid and it won’t stand for the malicious ongoings. We didn’t start the war, Al-Qaeda did, just like how Germany started World War I. Both of these evil powers forced us to join in order to save the lives of innocent Americans. Since the war on terrorism, no terrorist dare step on U.S. soil, no innocent Americans have died as a result of taking the war to the enemy. Isn’t a war justified when the goal is to protect our own people and national security?

        • Jenai A. says:

          I feel that you don’t give the Al-Qaeda the credit they deserve. They didn’t just “simply” terrorize and terrify the American people, in one occasion they hijacked commercial airplanes filled with innocent people and dove them into the World Trade Center killing 2,819 total that day (http://nymag.com/news/articles/wtc/1year/numbers.htm). We cannot forget the many murdered by the Al-Qaeda, the millions more affected indirectly. And as a clarification, the United States and the United Kingdom chose to invade Iraq on suspicion of weapons of mass destruction, not out of retaliation or to collect their collateral in Iraqi lives, but to ensure security.

          Overall, the real issue is the morality of war. Lives lost in war are as Raena put it, “not in vain because it helps America reach the goal of ending wars”. Agreeing with Cheyenne, what should we, the United States, have done? What should any country do when faced with the option of war? If what Thoroeau says is correct, we need to act upon our conscience. If to wage war meant securing the safety of one’s nation, Throreau would be in agreement in this route.

      • Raena N. says:

        Although Kela brings up many good points on how the Iraq war was an immoral decisions on the US part, that still doesn’t say whether or not the government on a whole is immoral. My thoughts on our government is that the government reflects who America is on a whole because the people choose who gets to be our president, senators, governors, and some others. This way of thinking reflects what Henry Thoreau was saying in his piece of how “a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience”, meaning that our government will only be immoral if we allow immoral people into the government and with this knowledge, we can mold a morally right government. An opinion in ABC’s Religion and Ethics states why wars are a “moral necessity” on the ABC’s Religion and Ethics official page. Stanley Hauerwas, the author of this opinion, states that the views Pacifists are idealistic and wars just can’t be avoided. He makes a convincing argument that the wars America fights in is, in fact, morally right because it helps the American people themselves and, even though people may die in these wars, deaths are not in vain because it helps America reach the goal of ending wars.

    • Taylor S. says:

      When Nicole said, “[n]o matter how you want to word it, or phrase it, when it comes down to the whole, the government and a majority of the leaders have no morals,” I recollected Carly’s statement, “that there is no wrong or right, but instead a conscience and that the conscience determines what is right or wrong,” sparking a series of questions: Is it ever possible to have a government that isn’t somewhat corrupt? What is the definition of moral? Isn’t everyone’s conscience different, so that if he chooses to follow his conscience in leadership, it will be based off of what he feels is right, rather than the community’s welfare? Referring to Socrates’ question, “what is moderation?” I believe moderation entails a just and corrupt side of the government pendulum, making it entirely impossible to have a system where its individuals follow their conscience, making the right decisions for the community. Therefore, the only questions left are “what is the definition or moral?” and “who defines what is moral and what is not?” Both are subjective, making it entirely impossible to have a set government

      • LeShae H. Period 1 says:

        I disagree with the statement “No matter how you want to word it, or phrase it, when it comes down to the whole, the government and a majority of the leaders have no morals,” that was made in Nicole’s post. Similar to Jo’s feelings on the subject, I feel that it is a little irrational to state that the government has no morals. Though we may feel that the government’s decisions have no moral reasoning behind them, the truth of the matter is that those who make decisions in politics are indeed doing so based on what they believe to be morally right. However, each person’s moral schema is different and is shaped according to his or her own beliefs. What one person may believe to be morally correct may be morally incorrect to another and thus our morals are very subjective. When it comes down to it, we will never be able to establish whether or not the government is morally corrupt without first coming to an agreement on what is morally right or wrong.
        While reading the posts made by the class, a few questions popped into my head. If a person makes a morally wrong decision, does that make the person corrupt? Does that make the person the “bad guy”? I believe that in some cases yes, the person who made the decision could’ve done so to entail some negative impact. However, I feel that this won’t hold true for every single person who is a part of our government. In America, we have some of the world’s most powerful and influential leaders who are driven by patriotism. Why then, would people driven by such motivation be purposefully corrupt?

      • Kai E. Period 1 says:

        I was intrigued by Jo’s post in regards to the idea of “who defines what is moral and what is not?” This idea of each person’s view of what is acceptable seems to be an interesting concept and from reading the many posts from classmates, I am able to see the many differing views and opinions. This truly makes me wonder, “where is the line drawn between what is right and what is wrong?” and “who draws this line?” These questions remind me of a statement Thoreau made in his piece, which says “He who gives himself entirely to his fellow-men appears to the useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them is pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist”. While reading Civil Disobedience, this statement in particular stuck with me as I wondered why a person, who by my standards is selfless and generous would appear “to be useless and selfish”, yet a man who put in half the work and generosity reaps the rewards. Upon reading Jo’s post, I think that Thoreau was trying to introduce the idea that the public may not always see the whole picture. To reiterate what Jenai has said earlier, many of comments posted are extremely critical of our government. Yet, from Thoreau’s statement, it forces me to remember that we, as the citizens who are not in political power, do not know everything that happens. What we may see may not be the whole picture, so passing quick judgments may not always be the answer. The question remains again, of who truly decides what is right and wrong?

    • Chelsey K. says:

      Responding to Nicole, I have to oppose. We, as Americans, can all rant about how we believe our system of government is a government that serves the people, but in fact corruption does take places, the public is just blinded to it all. However, I do not think we can say that “when it comes down to the whole, the government and a majority of the leaders have no morals.” How are we to prove that? In our world there are government leaders who do actually have morals and actually try to make things better, but all the focus goes on the few who are overcome with too much power and turn to the evil side. As far as soldiers being “machines,” I feel that soldiers are very wise and respectable people. They serve our country with dignity and know what they are getting themselves into. Maybe in fact few are blind to the political corruptional reason behind war, but they all know that they are fighting for our country even though the particular reasoning behind war might be wrong. If anyone can recall, about few years back a soldier refused to go to Iraq because he did not believe in the reason at all. He was not willing to risk his life for a idiotic war. So right there is proof that they are all not following mindlessly. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but I honestly do not think the government will change at all or even over time. We’re America, we were always and will be corrupt.

  3. Max C. Period: 1 says:

    Henry Thoreau, in his piece entitled “Civil Disobedience”, argues that the government turns its people into pawns, willing to serve, but acting on obedience alone and not on their own thought. He asserts that “[t]he mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.” When humans lose their ability to reason, they become just as useless as a simple object such as a stick or a stone. These objects can be manipulated into achieving a task, but they cannot act on their own and accomplish more than is expected. They are used to carry out the bidding of that whom controls them, whether that be right or wrong. Thus, Thoreau insists that the people must learn to act on their own, through a sharp mind and “good” conscience. Otherwise, the people are only an extension of the government. In other words, the government rules the people instead of serving them.

    • Jesslin S. says:

      I agree with Max’s post. He brings up a good point in relation to people being like machines. The fact that we are losing ability to reason and make moral choices, leaves us falling to the government’s will. The reason for a government is to better the community and benefit the people, but instead of governing for the betterment of everyone, they’re governing for the betterment of themselves. Max’s last sentence, “the government rules the people instead of serving them,” is the truth. The corruption of government in this day and age is history repeating itself. The government has lost interest in hearing what the people have to say and has gained desire to control them.

    • Hannah L. says:

      Thoreau continues to explore the idea of the people being too passive. Like Max said, the people just follow orders from the government instead of taking action against the issues that they have opinions about. Thoreau says in his piece that if people aren’t doing anything, they are part of the problem, which I agree with. They’re not really helping improve the government, so they’re in turn allowing it to continue being corrupt. In order to improve the government, the real people, not those in government, will have to begin to voice their opinions to the government. Even if the government doesn’t listen to what the people have to say, then at the very least they tried and can continue to keep trying to change things until the government finally caves in to the wants and needs of the people.

      • Nikki H. says:

        I agree with what Hannah has to say. The only way for there to be change that the people want is if the people voiced their opinions and followed through in trying to make them actually happen. I believe that Thoreau understood that and he wanted people take action and do something about the way that government was, and still is, running things. The government believes that since they are in power, they can do whatever they want and people will conform to their decisions. And they are right. Not enough people are willing to stand up to their government and try to change things. If I could have one wish for the world, I would want for people to find their voice and to try and fix things to help benefit the majority.

      • Moriah A. says:

        I also agree with Hannah when she says that, “[T]he real people, not those in government, will have to begin to voice their opinions to the government.” Henry Thoreau says, “I think we should be men first, and subjects afterward.” Being a man means standing up for ones rights and beliefs, and for Thoreau he believes that people should take their stands about things and then, if needed, follow what the government says. I think he was trying to say that people shouldn’t be so passive about the laws and what the government allows, but they should develop a respect about what is right. To him, more unjust rather than good things would happen because of too much respect from the law. An example of this is in war, the soldiers who are made into “machines” for the government, that can’t put their moral sense into practice, are the ones who are called good citizens. These men respect the law so greatly that they’d do whatever the government tells them too. Thoreau wants men to not be so passive with the government and the laws, but do “good” in their communities.

  4. JT C. Period 1 says:

    Hannah ended her post by saying that people need to voice their opinions to the government and eventually the government might cave in. The problem with this is that voicing an opinion usually comes with negative consequences. And more times than not, simply voicing one’s opinions won’t do much to change the opinions of the government. In order to really turn the heads of the people in charge, action must be taken and so many times this means breaking the law. How many people nowadays feel strong enough about something that they are willing to break the law and suffer the consequences? In my personal experience, I know so many people that are mad with the government and complain about with people their comfortable. But none of these people are willing to take act on their displeasures because of the consequences they will suffer.

  5. Kapelekua G. Period 1 says:

    Although I understand JT’s viewpoint I disagree with some of his arguments. The first argument I disagree with is his statement about”Voicing an opinion usually comes with negative consequences”; I feel as if numerous people throughout time have achieved positive outcomes from disobeying authority. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against racial segregation and as a result paved the way for others to eliminate this prejudice. Another example would be Gandhi, who persuaded Indian people to fight for their rights and freedom, which they later on received. Both these significant men suffered fatalities, but their consequences were had positive outcomes.
    In regards to the last statement of JT’s post, the people suffering in Egypt prove his argument false. They are actually willing to go against their authority in order to fight for what they want and as a result are suffering immensely.
    I do however, agree that many people are afraid to face the consequences that government might issue. I find it ironic that these officials, who the people are so afraid of, were actually elected by Americans to rule the government. If one wants to place blame for things that an official does, then that same person should look first to himself because he allowed that official to gain so much power.

  6. Jenai A. says:

    Many of the comments made have been accusing the government of being utterly corrupt. While this is the claim, I see no evidence, no examples, no elaboration on that claim made. I feel that a lot of us in the class, a lot of kids reflect our parent’s views, the views discussed around the dinner table that inevitably turn into our own unsupported views of the world. For many parents and adults, they express great distress and anger against a corrupt government and then we put forth this same belief, but I can’t help but wonder, HOW is the government corrupt and in what way? I’m positive there are examples to back up this claim, but these arguments made so far are lacking that piece of evidence. Moreover it is highly improbable for EVERY single politician elected into office to be selfish, self-centered men and women in EVERY aspect of government during EVERY instance ALL the time. Like Thoreau and many above spoke about, the government is simply made up of people, and these people all have minds. So we cannot make the assumption that the government as a whole is corrupt, especially without evidence proving either side.

  7. Pua O Per. 1 says:

    Kapelekua made a valid point when she states that “If one wants to place blame for things that an official does, then that same person should look first to himself because he allowed that official to gain so much power,” but I am not entirely convinced that the people are at fault for every single decision and action an elected official determines. People vote for their favorite candidate because they believe in what he or she stands for, but they have no control on the candidate’s decisions, their job is only to vote and to voice their opinions, but it is the candidate’s fault if he or she does not heed to the people’s concerns. It is not the people’s fault if they believed in someone, it is the system’s fault for ignited the corruption, which is one of Henry David Thoreau’s main points: the government’s corruption is contagious and preys on unsuspecting victims. Even if an elected politician voices opinions which reflect the concerns and viewpoints of his voters, Thoreau realizes that “voting for the right is doing nothing for it.” Action is what Thoreau advocated. Action is what the people need. Not the kind of action that leads to violence, but the kind of action activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi emulated, action for rights and freedoms, achieved through passive means.

  8. Bronson Barretto says:

    Reflecting on Jena’i’s comment, I agree with her 100%. It is obviously effortless to simply say that the government is corrupt. But there was one part in her comment that I disagree upon. Yes, it is highly improbable for every politician to be self-centered and selfish. However, it is safe for us to make assumptions(notice I said assumptions, not declarations) that the government is corrupt. Although not every single politician is corrupt, there are corrupt politicians nonetheless. Take an example from of the class of 2012 at Kamehameha Schools. Last school year there were a lot of controversies because there was a video passed around the school including inappropriate scenes. Those who were involved with the video were released from Kamehameha Schools almost instantaneously. Although only a few were involved with the video, the whole class of 2012 soon suffered accusations and inappropriate judgments from the other classes. These judgments went so far that the class of 2012 started to separate within itself as nobody knew who to trust anymore. The point I’m trying to make is that individuals can affect the overall perception of a group. One corrupt politician means that there is still room for error and unscrupulous workers. If one politician is corrupt, he/she affects the government as a whole and it is for that reason that it is exceptional for common folk to create assumptions that the government is corrupt.

Add Comment Register

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>