Throwback Thursday – Argumentative Essay: Disobedience

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.

Progress comes with time, but only when catalyzed by humans. One catalyst can be disobedience. Disobedience can be anything from small defiances to nation’s rebellions, not on the individual scale, but on the global scale, on the societal one. Society must change society; one individual cannot alone create progress. Progress is by definition a large scale shift, so for disobedience to ring out progress, it must be large scale, and not for the sake of disobedience, but with a purpose.

Humans are social creatures, and social progress can only come with large shifts, not small ones. Disobedience on its own, cannot be a virtue, but can be used for virtuous means; to bring about societal change in the use of large scale disobedience. Take, for example, the American revolution. Today, the revolution is celebrated as the birth of democracy, the birth of America – a nation that prides its self on progress. Though at its inception, the revolution was nothing more than a disobedience of the colonies to its authority, Britain. If only a handful of individuals had lead said disobedience – had participated in the rebellion, it would have been labeled treason, and the only change to come would have been the swift downfall of the colonies. But, as a large scale disobedience, as a rebellion, as a revolution, ideas expressed – of democracy, of freedom – can spread in society, and produce social change, create progress.

Progress is not wrought by single disobediences. A single disobedience is punishable, ignorable. For example, if one person, alone, protests a company or business practice, it is easily ignored. If many people boycott a company, then the company changes its ways or falls to ruins: progress. If one person protests a law or ruling they are imprisoned. If a significant number of people begin to protest a law, then new representatives are elected, and legislature is changed in accordance: progress is made. Disobedience is only virtuous if it incites progress, and progress can only come about when it is wanted, society moves in the direction of the mentality of the majority. So for progress to follow disobedience, disobedience must be, if not on the majority scale, then on a scale large enough to influence the majority, if not, it is a single act of incorrigible behavior, something that, at its core disrupts society, disrupts the current status quo without the introduction of a new path, and thus, not aiding progress at all. Disobedience with a goal can create progress, without a goal, disobedience disrupts society to the point where progress cannot be made, when unity of any scale can no longer be achieved. Society requires some degree of cohesion, while a large scale disobedience can shift society towards progress, small scale disobediences can destroy that societal cohesion, and impede progress when the majority becomes frightened of an unknown status quo.

In terms of disobedience and progress, the ends justify the means. It is the progress achieved that renders disobedience able to be labeled a “virtue” – only in particular instances. Disobedience is not inheritably virtuous or valuable, nor generally celebrated, but as with most human acts, it has its place, and is imbibed with value by its uses and abuses.



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