Understanding civil disobedience is key to preserving liberty

Agency, or freedom, is a gift ordained by God, given to man for man’s benefit. A government cannot give liberty or freedom to a man because all mankind was born free. A government can only protect and preserve this liberty.

That was, in fact, the very reason government was formed-to protect and preserve our civil liberties from injustice and tyranny.

Thus, when a government imposes upon your liberties, it is your right, even your duty, to rebel against it so that your liberty and the liberty of the following generations may be preserved.

Along with our constitution and government, however, came laws whose chief end is the preservation of order. Disorder, it is theorized, will only lead to the tyranny of chaos and sorrow. But what recourse do we have when there are laws that do not serve our needs? If a particular law does not serve your needs, it may still be moral to follow it, because it may protect others; in the same regard, you would want others to follow those laws that do not necessarily benefit them, but protect you.

So the question arises, when is it just to break a law, and when is it immoral to do so?

To answer this, one must understand there are two primary types of laws, differing in their origin: mala prohibata laws and mala en se laws. Mala en se laws are natural laws, laws that should not be broken to any extent or degree, laws that prohibit things such as murder, rape, adultery, etc.-these are laws that if followed will increase liberty, if broken will inherently end in either the loss of your liberties or the liberties of your victim.

For example, if you murder somebody you inherently take away his or her liberty because, well…he or she is dead and cannot choose to be alive; while mala prohibata laws are laws that prohibit things only because the government says so, they are laws that supposedly exist for the benefit and welfare of society-such as traffic laws.

But I contest that the only moral laws are those laws that protect and preserve our liberties, because after all, the protection of liberties should be the true goal of government.

Mala prohibata laws often place an imposition upon our liberties, instead of protecting them. Therefore, there is no natural justification for mala prohibata laws; they are only justified when society as a whole agrees with them, for the mutual benefit of individuals within that society.

The only law that has any credence, however, is the law that is obeyed. So when enough people mount resistance to a particular mala prohibata law, it no longer has any hold.

So, after serious and profound introspection, if you find a particular law immoral-not only do you disagree with it, but you honestly believe that it makes immoral impositions upon society as a whole-it is your right, but more importantly your duty, to break it. Break it expeditiously and without fear of retaliation.

A government may, from time to time (often due to the weak ambitions of those who rule) make immoral or unjust constraints upon the individuals within a society. But we, as individuals with a firm moral conscience, cannot allow this to happen.

When a government goes too far, when it does all things but protect our civil liberties, we must fight for the morality and the freedom of ourselves and those generations who will follow.

We must never break a natural law, but mala prohibata laws often exist to entrench the government in its seat of power, and if that government becomes immoral or unjust, the laws that keep it in power must be broken.

I cannot give a specific law that is unjust, but there are many that could be considered so: Zoning laws are awfully strict, some local laws make restrictions upon what you can do with your own property, how many pets you can have, certain traffic laws, etc. We must all look to our own conscience to truly discover what we think is right and what we think is wrong. And if our government, which we duly elected and which draws its power only from our consent to be governed goes astray, we must protest.

If there is not sufficient political means to effect change, if our protests are ignored, if lacking sufficient approved means to right the wrongs of government, there is one recourse we still maintain: civil disobedience.

Our liberties will be preserved, even if we must fight for them-and even if it means breaking some unjust laws to do so.

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