How Civil Disobedience Is Essential to Progress

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Throughout our lives, disobedience has had a crucial impact dating back to our years of adolescence. Disobedience could simply be shown through our defiance to study for a test or take part in a vast upheaval hoping to bring drastic change by disputing certain standards in society. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, it is defined as the refusal or neglect to obey. This generally has a negative connotation since people view neglect and refusal as negative words. However, the influence disobedience has made on society has had a positive impression through the vast development it has brought along in human civilization. Although disobedience could be seen as harmful to society and political institutions, it is a vital trait that has overthrown unjust regimes and systems, and has helped humanity transcend unequal ideologies.

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In the past, mankind has gone through tragic racial disparities all across the world, but what comes with these tragedies are arguably the greatest breakthroughs in all of history. Whether it be through passive movements or violent rebellions, disobedience has achieved long-lasting impact across the globe that is carried on into today’s world. For example, Mohandas Gandhi led India to independence against the cruel British rule through his nonviolent and peaceful intentions. Without disobedience, India, in the present, would not be considered a rising economic powerhouse that is estimated to rise above China in population in 2028. This historical event, including many others such as the South African Apartheid with Nelson Mandela, has helped shaped society today, which shows that disobedience was the primary driving force to furthering society towards a fair and just society. Another example is women’s rights and suffrage movements all throughout the 20th century. Important women suffragists include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Emmeline Pankhurst who all fought for women’s voting, rights, jobs, and educational opportunities. Because of their disobedience, women’s representation and their opportunity in education and their career has greatly improved. For example, a convention called Grace Hopper that provides computer science opportunities for women, which is only one example of thousands of programs for women. This would not be possible if those women had not defied gender inequalities. These examples of disobedience have changed the perspective of many people in today’s society, evidently displaying disobedience as an essential trait to change.

An absence of disobedience leads to political institutions imposing their power to create an unequal society. When this occurs, authoritarian regimes thrive since the people of the country have no voice or representation. Examples of these regimes include Adolf Hitler as the ruler of Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin as the Russian Soviet Dictator. Both of these regimes are very similar to how they dictated, and how the people were treated with concentration camps and gulags. Due to the harsh conditions in these camps, people were afraid to disobey the government which allowed for totalitarian rule and eventually the disastrous holocaust. These cases are testimonies to prove how necessary disobedience is in society in order to respond to these tyrannical regimes.

It is important for society to understand why disobedience is essential to progress, but it is equally important to understand how it could be harmful to society. If equal, laws and regulations benefit society since it would keep citizens safe and allow for them to progress. Laws are essential to keep peace within society because if they are disobeyed it would create havoc and could be detrimental to societal advancement. Abraham Lincoln said every citizen should abide by the law or else stability would not be maintained. This could result in an anarchical society which would halt the progress of humans. There are also examples of disobedience being used to support unequal institutions. Before the Civil War, the south had seceded from the Union in hopes for preserving slavery. This was an act of disobedience used for the wrong and unjust cause. This suggests that disobedience can be the key to progress, but also the end to integrity and growth. To an extent, disobedience, as Oscar Wilde would say, is a valuable trait to promote progress, but it can also hurt society and negatively impact its growth if used for the wrong intentions.

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