Let’s take a closer kick at a normal citizen. Eric, a man living in that society, is on his way to workplace. There’s surveillance screens everywhere watching every steps, every moves of its citizen, including Eric. He doesn’t seem to care about those things, since he get used to be watched. In his world, obedience is highly value as a virtue, being obedient to the authorities gaining you privileges, or if you became one of the prosecutor of the government, you can even get what normal citizen usually can’t.
Even though the streets are full of people, there’s not a single conversation takes places. Everyone mistrusts each other. Suddenly, Eric catches a glimpse of a large rood in front of him, they are gathering around the city square’s space. Lots of cheering and applauding. Erie’s curiousness provoke him to walk towards that direction. Since the crowd gathers around the center of the square, Eric can’t comprehend what was happening. Fortunately, a large televised screen is attached to the high building stands across the square so Eric can see what’s happening.
At the center of the square, a man handcuffed and looked miserable is surround by a group of soldier, Suddenly, one of the soldier walks to the podium, using the microphone and proclaim: “This man has intend to challenge the authorities by organizing mass protests against the government. In accordance with the laws, he must be executed. ” Immediately following was the standing applause of the crowd, they don’t seem to show pity for the man. The poor man then strives to break free and scream out loud towards the raging crowd: ” Let’s take part in the uprising against this barbarian regime, don’t you are the people who are painfully suppressed.
Where are you now, stand up for your rights, my brothers and sisters. What makes me feel heartbroken is not for being executed, I feel sad for your inorganic, your blindingly obedience to this powerful but oppressed government, my family has all died pointlessly not because of the government but because of your selfishness, may all of you rot in hell”. Bang! The man succumbs to his death. The crowd then disperses, leaving the poor man’s corpse behind. Everything gets back to normal. Eric watch the times, realizes that he is late for work, he leaves the scene without even contemplating about what happened before.
Even though it is a hypothetical future society, you can sense some kind of familiarity in contemporary era. One infamous example is North Korea. North Korea has one of the most oppressed and secretive society in the world, which garner its name “hermit kingdom”. Just like the bleak future of the world above, citizens have no voice in public affairs. There are some reliable sources that confirms the existence of numerous public executions in North Korea. All independent thinking is suppressed, conformity is a virtue.
The main reason why that regime hasn’t collapsed yet is the supreme obedience to the regime. In addition to North Korea, there are still numerous number of nations that is undemocratic, suppressing their own citizens. Even in the United States, the people that pep interest in politics is decreasing over times, illustrated by the falling number of voting percentage of past election. Politics have a very big impact to the whole infrastructure and economies of a society, therefore voting for the right people should be a duty, not a responsibility of a democratic society.
What is wrong with democracy today? In my opinion, the rate of obedience has a direct relationship to the democracy level of every society. Increasing obedience without questioning the government even though it commit wrongdoings correlates with the decreasing of democracy and vice versa. The objective of this essay is give some insightful overview about the two concepts: obedience and civil disobedience. First, I devote an entire portion to discuss the behavior of obedience in controlled study.
Then introduce the opposing concept of disobedience, in particular civil disobedience which is disobedience but implying at a societal and political aim. Two famous thinkers that interpreted and applied the concept in different ways, each has their own merits and weaknesses which will discuss at the end of the essay and how both of them influence many later political movement. The second portion is dedicated to scrutinize Terry Tempest Williams The Clan of One Breasted- Women, which chronicles her total transformation from blindingly obedient to the American government to resisting it by the civil disobedience method.
The third section is about my personal struggle of obedience back when I was living in home country, Vietnam. I will also address many implications that derives from the issue of obedience and civil disobedience. OBEDIENCE AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE Imagining you are attending a public gathering such as a concert or a movie theater. Suddenly, the music or the movie ends and the front row of audiences suddenly have an impulse to stand up and clap their hands in praise of the performance. Then immediately, the rest in the chamber spontaneously also want to join their acts, including you.
Whether or not you are fully immersed into their works is not relevant since you would give a standing ovation any. Pay. Only in the case that you really loathe the performance then you would refuse to join the crowds. What can we draw from this example? We, as human being has the tendency to be influenced, whether directly or not. Conformity is the influence on our behavior by peer pressure, whether real or imagined. To people, the feeling of being isolated to the society is horrifying. A related concept is obedience, which describe the action of acting according to an authority figure.
One of the most famous and also infamously controversial experiments about obedience in people were conducted in 1 9605 by Stanley Amalgam, a renowned social psychologist (Pain, Armonion, and Stewart 3). Amalgam wanted to devised an experiment about the obedience nature of human based on two reasons. First, he was influenced by the conformity experiment in the sass by his mentor, Solomon Sash, another influential social psychologist (Blabs 6). Second, he was motivated to answer the question: what makes destructive obedience exist such as of the Holocaust? (Blabs 12).
And so began one of the most famous experiment revealing the dark side of human nature that shocks the world. The set-up was simple. Two men were recruited from the department of Psychology in Yale University to participate in a psychological research about memory and learning. One man assumed the role of a learner, who in fact was a confederate. The other man was instructed to be a teacher, without knowing the learners real identity. The experimenter then led the learner to the adjacent room, strapped him to a chair and attached electrodes to his arm. The teacher was ordered to read word pairs.
Whenever the learner delivered a false answer, the teacher had to give an electric shock to the learner. In front of the teacher, there was a shock generator that has voltage meter ranging from 15 to 450 volts in 15-V, every false response will lead to an increase in voltage. In reality, the learner received no shocks, but was told to act according to the intensity of the voltage. 330-V is the point when the learner stopped responding. The experiment was stopped either when the searcher refused to deliver any more shocks four times or the teacher has pressed the highest intensity possible three times.
It turned out, 65% Of the teachers didn’t stop even after the highest voltage shock possible (Pain, Armonion, and Stewart 4). Amalgam afterwards repeated his experiment with different variations and alterations, the result were always consistent. What significant about Amalgam study is that normal people, when faced with a particular situation, could act against their moral obligation. Amalgam concludes by saying that ” Obedience comes easily and often” (Blabs 15). This inclusion is exceptional since it set apart people’s behaviors and their inherent characteristic.
It was not justified to evaluate a person’s virtue simply by his or her behavior. What factors influence the tendency of obedience? It turns outs there are many. First, if the emotional closeness of the teacher and the learner is very limited, the experiment is without doubt lasting through the end. Bearing no responsibility, the teacher doesn’t show his compassion towards the learner (Pain, Armonion, and Stewart 3). A second factor is the increasing frequency of the acts without any punishment (Pain, Armonion, and Stewart 3).
To illustrate, if you commit criminal behaviors repeatedly without being persecuted, you must have the urge to participate in those bad things again sometime in the future. The third factor is the legitimacy and closeness of the authority flexure, in this case, the experimenter. The learner believes that a scientist is always right, and what he or she is doing is for the benefit of the scientific community. Similarly, the learner would feel the sense of responsibility more strongly if he or she is was seated closer to the experimenter. The final factor is the situation at which the experiment is taking place.
Princeton University, where the experiment was conducted, is a very famous institution which contribute to the credibility of the experiment. Another factor which in my opinion also influence the yielding to the demand of the authorities that Amalgam undermines is culture. Some regions in the world has the prevalence rate of political unrest or uprising higher than some other areas. Why all the Communist countries of the West has all been overthrown by the people but not of Asia? Asian cultures are very conservative. Obedience is a virtue in most Asian society, therefore it is obvious that social uprisings rarely occurs in those countries.
The opposite act Of obedience is disobedience. Henry David Thoreau, a famous American writer wrote an essay in 1849 that is so convincing so powerful that later influences many modern political thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin ether King. That essay was named Civil Disobedience and it is in that essay that the word Civil Disobedience was originally coined. Civil Disobedience is a very complex piece of writing filled with social commentary and revolutionary thoughts. Essentially, Thoreau purpose of writing the essay was to advise conscious citizens should follow their personal conscience.
Thoreau wrote the say to protest against the slavery system still dominating the American society at that time. In addition, he want to show his strong opposition to the war between the United States and Mexico at that time regarding territory disputes. In fact, the land that the US government gained from the war’s victory is the Southwest IIS today. Thoreau begins his essay by asserts that, “That government is best which governs least. ” (Thoreau 156). In his opinion, limited governance is the most beneficial to the society.
Thoreau then even goes further by proclaims “”That government is best which governs not at all” (Thoreau 156). Thoreau figures out that the government’s viewpoint is not always right, it is usually “abused and perverted” by the majority (Thoreau 157). The majority is not always right even though that expresses democracy at its best. Thoreau believes that a government should be established based on the foundation of personal conscience. He knows that the majority is always subject to misinformation and propaganda by a small number of politicians from the government, therefore they are more likely to make informed judgments.
It is interesting to notice that the word “civil” in the phrase civil disobedience does not means peaceful resistance to the authority. “Civil” in Thoreau writing means associating with the state, hence the whole phrase means the resistance to the state. Thoreau simply wants to encourages his fellow men to stand up and resist the government that enacts unjust laws, by whatever method, this includes both non-violent and violent. On the other hand, Mahatma Gandhi, the person who led a series of non- violence movements in India through its eventual independence after World War II, interpreting the world “civil” differently. Civil” in Sandhog’s sense means peaceful, non-violent resistance. Born in a deeply religious Hindu family in India, Gandhi was a highly educated man. Experience the atrocities and unfairness in British Raja (Colonial British India), he was passionate to hold the belief that one day India would gain independence. Gandhi coined the term Straight. He explains: ‘Truth (Stay) implies love, and firmness (graph) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force” (Chuddar, Ninja, and William 3). The term can be synonymously understood as “insistence on truth”, which indicates the spiritual resistance of the Indian people.
Gandhi first came up with this principle while he was living in South Africa, at the name time, he successfully organized the first successful civil disobedience protests against the discrimination policy of the South African government (Devalue 1). There are two points which Set apart Sandhog’s idea Of straight and Thoreau conception of civil disobedience. First, civil disobedience must be practiced by using exclusively non-violent acts (Chuddar, Ninja, and William 4). Second, these acts should be the response to an unmoral laws (Chuddar, Ninja, and William 3).
It should be noticed that Gandhi and his followers’ effort is to put an end to British colonialism which had been lasted for nearly a century. Their nationalist enthusiasm is intense, what they demand is to overthrow the whole alien government, whereas Thoreau just expresses his resentment about some but not all of the government’s wrongdoings. Originally, Gandhi refers to his philosophy as “passive resistance” because he wants to translate his idea into English but then discarded this term because its con nonnative meaning is to negative, “gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance’ (Chuddar, Ninja, and William 3).
Instead, Gandhi used the term civil obedience because it has the closest meaning to the principle of straight even though there is some drastic preferences as notice above. Both Sandhog’s idea and Thoreau writing about civil disobedience had a huge impact on the world since their conception. THE CLAN OF ONE-BREASTED WOMEN Have you ever challenged an respectful authorities of their wrongdoings? A Mormon and also a writer have written an excellent book just to express her resentment against the American governments nuclear tests in the ass, which affects her family tremendously.
Her name is Terry Tempest Williams. It is the epilogue of the book named The Clan of One-Breasted Women that directly criticizes the American government for the misery of her people, the Mormon. Williams not only harbors a bitter feeling about the irresponsibility of the government which cause a high rate of cancer in her family but also question the price of blindingly obedience, even though that act might violate her people’s cultural norms. Even though a decade had passed since World War II, a new war has begun. Cold War, as it most commonly been referred to, is s special war in many aspects.
It caused no major casualties between the two greatest superpower at that time, the united States and the Soviet Union, yet it ignites one of the most horrifying atmosphere throughout the world, in ear of an emerging worldwide nuclear disaster. Amidst that political turmoil, American society and politics also has undergone many dramatic changes. Williams recounts ” The Korean War was raging. McCarthy was rampant. Eke was it and the Cold War was hot. If you were against nuclear testing, you were for a Communist regime. ” (Williams 262).
Unfortunately, the place on which the United States initiated the nuclear tests is Nevada which is not very distant from her hometown Utah. The accidental nuclear fallouts exposure has brought great misfortune to her family and also herself. At the beginning f the epilogue, readers are immediately introduced by a shocking yet emotionally charged summary of her family tragedy, “I belong to a Clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. ” (Williams 261 ).
Williams then recounts various point in her lifetimes by providing a series of flashback. She witnesses her mother’s painful recovery from breast cancer. Even though she is seriously weakened by breast cancer complications, she shows no sign of agony, even comforts her children. ” (Williams 261 Second, Williams recalls her vivid memories about the recurring dreams she always has about a bright flash over the desert , which culminate in her fathers revelation about the day her family was accidentally exposed to nuclear fallout. What makes cancer so terrifying is that it does not kill its victims Instantly.
Cancer goes undetected throughout a person’s lifetime until it unleash its destructive power to the victim, “It took 14 years, from 1957 to 1 971 , for cancer to show up in my mother” (Williams 263) . After every unbearable incidents that has secured to her family, Williams finally come to the conclusion that blindingly obedient to the authority, specifically the Lignite States government is the culprit of her families suffering. Clearly, having something to believe in such as a religion, a faith, is sometimes of great advantages, to Williams family it is a burden.
Mormon people are commonly known as mild people, mainly because they follow strictly to their religion’s doctrine. They embrace a healthy lifestyle which includes abstaining from alcoholic beverages, smoking cigarettes… At the same time, it is due to their belief that destroy their whole ivies. Mormon culture highly values obedience and conformity, thinking outside of the box is not greatly encouraged. Williams recalls, “l was taught as a young girl not to “make waves” or “rock the boat. ” (Williams 263). Obedient mindset is also widely held within her family.
First, her grandmother shows no resentment against the government, just comforts her daughter when she contract cancer, “Diane, it is one of the most spiritual experiences you will ever encounter. ” (Williams 263). Second, even her mother remains calm after countless painful periods, ‘”Children, am fine. I want you to know I felt the arms of God around me. ” (Williams 263). Whenever Williams has disturbing thoughts and in need of questioning her authorities, her mother always advise her ‘to let it go” (Williams 264). Even to the point that Williams ironically labeled her people as “God-fearing people” (Williams 264).
Obviously, how can she endure such unfairness that greatly plagues herself and her family for their entire lifetimes? Hence, ultimately she decides to challenge the authorities, even though it means “losing her faith” (Williams 264). As can be seen, cultural factor is the dominant reason that her people believe so much to their government. After experiencing the harrowing tales of her life, Williams decided to make use of the civil disobedience method, illustrated by many ways. First, she uses her profession as a writer to attack the US government.
Indeed, a pen is mightier than a sword, Williams responsibility as a member of the Clan of One-Breasted Women is to use her literary talent directly and subtly criticize the US government’s view on nuclear weapon. Even though her family members and her people are described as docile, blindingly obedient people, they are also the warriors that always strive to protect their homeland and their dignity. Williams does not attribute her family members death to complications from cancer. They die because of the cruelty of the US governments nuclear policy without concerning to its own citizens.
Cancer is not a disease but is understood as the metaphor for their heroic but failed struggle against the US government, “The women’s attitude was stoic” (Williams 261). Throughout the epilogue, the theme of obedience and disobedience is intertwined. Williams family women died which is the undeniable truth yet they do not die pointlessly, their death is the legitimacy test of the tyrannical American government, they sacrifice for heir belief and their death is like a role model for other people to continue to fight for their rights. One of the most intense imagery which readers are treated is the dream at the end of the epilogue.
In this dream, Williams describe lots of women gathering around a fire in the desert, they intend to “reclaim the desert for the sake of their children, for the sake of the land” (Williams 267). In the midst of intense nuclear testing, the women are still dancing singing. The land suffers heavy damage, “stretch marks, muscle losing’ (Williams 267). We can make an interesting analogy, the way the land s devastated is just like the scars from cancer that Williams’ women have. The woman and the land they protect are now one entity. They can feel it. They can feel the “pain” of the land from the repeated nuclear tests.
This dream represents the last battle of the women of the Clan. The dream then concludes with the women “delivering message of resistance to the town’s citizens, calling for revolt against those who tell them they should not think or feel. ” (Williams 267). These two final sentences in the dream sequence represent Williams dramatic transformation from obedience to civil subsidence. The women know how to spread their words and call for a revolt, which is various techniques of showing disobedience to the authorities. Indeed, after the dream sequence, the storyline is cut abruptly to reality, now her dream has come true.
Williams then participated to the struggle rather than dreaming about it, “l crossed the line at the Nevada Test Site and was arrested with nine other Tetanus for trespassing on military lands” (Williams 268). When the soldier was searching for weapons, she found a pen and a pad of paper tucked in Williams’ boots. Williams strongly refers to hem as her “weapons”, even proudly calling her intrusion as an “act of civil disobedience” (Williams 268). On her forced trip out of the Nevada Test site, Williams suddenly became fascinated with the Joshua trees, which resemble one of her religion’s prophets.
In addition, she reminisced about her time walking under that tree with her beloved mother. Finally, Williams once again confirms her commitment to the land of her people, the desert that has “sandstone landscape, bare-boned and beautiful”, by stating that it is when she was trespassing into the nuclear test site that she feels actually being at “home” (Williams 268). MY PERSONAL STRUGGLE WITH OBEDIENCE Since I was born, I was told that my country has one of the most socially equal society in the world.
There’s no oppression, everybody deserves the same rights and any will be punished according to laws. Our people are one the most hospitable kinds, treating foreigners with respect and vice versa we are also being highly respected from foreigners. Despite still being poor and underdeveloped, the country is getting more and more prosperous. From the earliest days of my school, I was told to highly respected the Dear President of the Communist party. He was glorified as a man of amazing feat, who can tide my nation to a brighter future.
Daily broadcasting services and news keep bombarding my people with the same line: “Socialism is the trend of the future, every nations in the world eventually will follow the Socialist ideology regardless of their prior form of government”. The media are strictly regulated by the government, to be more specific, the Communist Party, since only the Communist Party is the legitimate body of governing in Vietnam. Had it not been for the Communist Party, we wouldn’t have been granted such basic necessities like food, clothes so my own people should feel grateful to the government. Time marched on and I still believe firmly in my own government.
Nevertheless, as I grew older I became more and more skeptical of the it. There’s a sense of bitter resentment toward the government pervading among the society. More and more people were reportedly treated unfairly which includes the unlawful land seizure of normal people and the brutal beating of the police force. Myriads of catastrophes kept popping up in the newspaper headline yet the government was reluctant to give out any reasonable answers. We were like docile sheep, feeling oppressed by the authoritarian regime yet most of my people didn’t have the guts to question r even challenge the regime.
Speaking of sheep, Williams also feels the same way when she was resting in her mother body while her family was driving near nuclear testing sites in the ass (Williams 264). A few went even further by challenging the regime and yet they found little success. All of them suffered the same fate, either forceful confession to the act for a lenient sentence or facing harsh treatment in jail for a lengthy time. Partly because of this, intended to move to the united States to enjoy more freedom. Shame was the emotion I felt at that times since my people were still struggling with he regime and I retreated from the country safe and sound.
Being originated from a Communist country. I could say that am a witness or a victim of that horrendous regime. According to the Communist ideology, individualism does not exist. A still tongue is a good tongue. If you want to express yourself about some particular issues, please do it in a collective way, do not attempt to challenge or suspect the legitimacy of the Communist party or else you will be accused of being the subversion of the People’s government. Even though my country has transform its economies from a centrally planned one to a ere market economies, it still has weakness.
Indeed our country enjoy a long period of exponential economic growth for the past 20 years until the recent economic recession. Although the situation of the developed countries was no better than of Vietnam, it is getting better for now. On the other hand, the economies of Vietnam keep getting worse and worse. And that came as no surprise since the root of all problems is the way the Communist party govern the country. First, even though the regime says that its economies was defined as the free-market economies, the percentage of government owned enterprise is nearly a half of all the number of companies within the country.
Despite that, those companies, ravaged by mismanagement and corruption, go bankruptcy and lose an enormous amount of the country’s treasury which was mostly collected from the citizen’s taxes and private sector of the country. Free market economies means regulatory role of the government must be limited. Clearly, it is not the case in Vietnam. Secondly, the brain drain process also contribute greatly to the economic stagnation. Waves of experts keep emigrating from Vietnam, partly because they can’t put up with he constant mistreatment and harassment of the authorities. The price of obedience became too high (Williams 264) .
In sum, even though I now reside in the United States, my heart aches when I think of the sorrow my people are experiencing in my home countries. At least the United States government acknowledge its misconduct. My people receive nothing, not even a small amount of compensation. CONCLUSION want to devote the entire of the conclusion to answer some interesting questions that can be derived from the topic of obedience and civil disobedience. First, I have mixed feeling about Thoreau view of the majority. It is evident that Thoreau is attacking democracy, because democracy represents the voice of the collective, not the individual.
He thinks that the majority does not always serve the need of the people, since it represents the ideal of the most dominant group, not the most righteous one. Judging from the opposite side, think that not every citizen’s conscience is perfectly good, since the moral standard of different people are different. In addition, he does not take into account of a psychological unstable man which totally has no sense of morality. His reaction of any war is a little too extreme since sometimes war is accessory, there is no moral standard here.
World War II is a necessary war it prevents any more atrocities committed by Nazi Germany against the Jewish people. History has shown that a genuinely true democracy will make a less developed country to a more developed one. Second, I don’t think Sandhog’s idea of non-violent civil disobedience is the most effective method of challenging the authorities. Its success depends on many factors. The first foremost reason is the number of willingly participants. He commit his act individually, not collective therefore it was in vain to change anything. On the notary, Gandhi has a whole nation that is in favor of his philosophy.
In addition, exclusive non-violent disobedience if turns out to be successful would cost so many lives and time as in the case of Sandhog’s struggle for India independence. In reality, it turns out the combination of both violent and non-violent form of civil disobedience is the most effective way to overthrow an authoritarian regime. Third, although I am very intrigued by the idea of civil disobedience, personally don’t support it fully. If a society is full of law- breaking citizens, laws that are legitimate and beneficial to them will not be enacted.
Just like Gandhi said, his philosophy is only applied to the people who practice it in good cause. In light of the recent waves of revolution from the Muslim World, want to illustrate this point. The Egyptian people through their relentless civil disobedient practices finally ousted their long-standing dictator in 2011. Yet, within a year the new democratically elected president was forced to resigned. The main reason are the slow improving economies from the previous regime’s legacy that has not been resolved successfully. It is evident that one year is a very short duration of time for a nation to regress.