Is the individual supposed to ignore their moral code and abide by whatever their superior expects them to do? Well, Martin Luther King Jar. Is a man who did not believe in the segregated structure of the United States’ society in the sass’s. However, instead of ignoring his Judgment he decided to act out against segregation, and made a difference in many people’s lives to this day. Another example. What happens when obedience to harsh laws and regulations are harmful towards society, and people only abide out of fear?
A great example of this is the Holocaust. This is an instance in history where disobedience towards authority could have saved thousands of lives. Throughout history, it has been proven that disobedience can be more beneficial for the common good as opposed to obedience to strict laws and regulations imposed by authority fugues. Martin Luther King Jar. Was famous for his “l have a dream” speech. This speech entailed a world where segregation and racism did not exist. During the sass’s this was a long shot.
One of the most famous lines of Kings speech was “l have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of roomer slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood” (King). During this time, King’s dream was practically unheard of and that is all it was… A dream. It was a hopeless thought that many people wished for but could never experience. There were different schools for black people and white people. There were different bathrooms, different restaurants, and different libraries.
It was very rare to see interracial friendships, and interracial romance was nearly unheard of. King believed that living in a racist, segregate society was not the ideal ay for people to go through life, so he decided to take a stand. According to Patrick Bassett, “King’s “l Have a Dream” speech, a vision of the future so powerful that it is routinely identified through polls as one of the most moving and influential speeches of all time” (Bassett). King believed what many other people at the time believed. He believed in equality and equal opportunity regardless of race.
He influenced many people’s lives during this time, and although the Civil Rights Movement was fifty years ago, today’s society remains impacted by the outcome. Because of this speech and Kings dedication to the cause, the American society today is one where equality is not nearly at a level of perfection, but it has made a tremendous difference. For that, King deserves praise and gratitude for beating the odds, and proving that he would not obey unjust, and prejudice laws and for changing the lives of a multitude of Americans in doing so.
This act of disobedience made history, and will always be one of the most memorable and significant acts of rebellion throughout history. He taught people that it is okay to stand up for what is right, even if that means risking all you have. King dealt with the consequences of going against popular belief. He lived with the ridicule, and harassment that came along with it, and ended up being assassinated in 1968. Although King risked everything he had, he made the nation a better, safer place to live in because he believed in the power of his idea, and the notion that he did not have to obey laws that did not benefit him.
Doll Hitler was a German dictator in the sass’s. He gained power by offering the citizens of Germany necessities during their time of despair. He promised his followers food, employment, and prosperity throughout Germany. He offered them hope for a better future, and in doing that, he insinuated that the “Aryan” race was dominant, and any other culture was the enemy. He mainly targeted the Jewish religion, and blamed them for a majority of Germany’s economic problems. Because he offered the citizens basically everything they needed, it was easy to gain support.
The Nazi soldiers were under Hitter’s rule and enforced harsh laws against Jewish citizens. Some punishments that faced Jewish citizens were to be exiled to concentration, death, or labor camps; as well as to be tortured or killed on the street. Ron Jones, a schoolteacher in the sass’s conducted an experiment in order to prove to his student’s how easy it is to obey authority under extreme circumstances. The reason he conducted this experiment was because his students were curious as to how German citizens claimed to know nothing about the cruel treatment the Jews received from Hitler and the Nazi’s.
The experiment Jones conducted was called the Third Wave. The Third Wave exposed the students to three main focuses: Strength through discipline, strength through community, and strength through action. To introduce the experiment, Jones introduced the students to a new seating position. The purpose of this was to show the students that they would be able to focus better, breathe more easily, and increase their alertness. Next, Jones influenced the class to believe that they are held to a higher standard than the rest of the students in the school, and that to be a member of the Third Wave brought them a higher, more important social order.
By doing this, Jones stated: “The Third Wave had become the center of their existence. I was in pretty bad shape myself. I was now acting as a dictator” Cones). He started assigning tasks that some consider to be cruel. For example, he instructed student’s to report to him of any behavior that the Third Wave regulations, and as a result an overflow of reported incidents flooded towards him from a multitude of students. The students gained a sense of nobility and significance from being in this “elite” organization. However, when they found out the results they were less than pleased with their behavior.
When Jones brought the experiment to a close, he explained to the students that they acted no different from the Nazi soldiers that brought grief to the Jews while following Hitter’s strict orders. He proved the significance of the experiment and how dangerous the power of authority could be if it is obeyed without a second thought. The students were upset with their actions, so much in fact, that they never wanted the memory of the Third Wave to exist. They were ashamed, and rightfully so. This experiment was a significant representation of how simple it can be to obey authority when one is receiving something in return.
Whether the reward is economic stability that Hitler provided the German’s with, or a sense of significance and pride that Jones provided o the members of the Third Wave, people will go to extreme lengths to abide by authority if it will benefit them in return. These two experiences are great examples of when disobedience out of moral intellect would have been used as a benefit. In World War II, under Hitter’s rule, if a soldier were to speak out, or a group of allies would have formed to prevent Hitter’s dictatorship the Holocaust would have been avoided, and millions of lives would have been saved.
Introduced in A Peace Reader… By Joseph Fay, is David Statesman’s short story Those who said “no” to the Holocaust. Skittering was an associate history professor who explains in his story, “Contrary to popular?and even scholarly?belief, even those under the direct control of Nazi Germany during World War II were able to ignore or even sabotage the systematic killing of Jews and others?and live to tell about it (Skittering).
Through this statement, the author is informing the reader that although Hitler inflicted strict force among all citizens to follow his orders, those who rebelled did so with their lives at stake, and followed through anyways because they knew it was the right thing to o. Those who rebelled and were able to get away with it played a significant role in saving many innocent lives from Hitter’s command and harsh treatment. If larger groups of citizens Joined together to go against Hitler and his army, many more lives would have been saved and the Holocaust could have been prevented.
Opposing the argument that disobedience can be more beneficial to society than obedience without thinking, is Nicholas P. Libreville of Southeastern College. In his essay The Role of Obedience in Society he states: “Obedience is a part of the foundation of society. Without obedience, naught would exist but chaos and anarchy’ (Libreville). Libreville believes that without obedience, society would be overtaken with chaos, and any organized type of social or economic structure would be nonexistent.
There would be no stability in employment, no way to distinguish socio-economic classes, and no way to measure one’s success. Although Libreville proves an excellent point that society must have some form of obedience and adaptation towards authority, there are many cases where unjust laws and regulations are put in place, awaiting someone with a strong moral compass to hanged or reform them. Many instances throughout history have showed people that yes, in some cases obedience towards authority is the right thing to do, and is the social norm.
However, the stories that make history are the ones where cruel treatment from authority fugues is not tolerated, and rebellion is the only solution. Understandably, laws are put into place to benefit the common good of the citizens they represent, however when they do not represent one’s best interest there needs to be a change. Individuals such as Martin Luther King Jar. And the everyday citizens that did not imply with Hitter’s requests are the heroes that prove to society that obedience when unjustified, can be excused.