Pros and Cons of Civil Disobedience

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What can you do if your government is requiring you to do something you don’t think is ethically or morally right? Civil disobedience is one option that doesn’t actually involve violence when instituted correctly. By working to change the hearts and minds of others, it becomes possible to remove unwanted requirements. This does come at the risk of personal safety as many governments, even local ones, don’t usually appreciate being told what they’re doing is wrong. Here are some of the other key points to consider in the pros and cons of civil disobedience.

The Pros of Civil Disobedience

1. It is a way to protest without breaking the law.
In many nations, civil disobedience can be performed without breaking additional laws. The Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery with MLK is a prime example of this.

2. It draws attention to the issue.
Those with religious convictions against marriage equality are vocally stating their opinion in several forums and it is keeping the issue at the top of the news chain in 2015. This draws everyone’s attention to the issue and forces an opinion to be formed.

3. It can create real change.
Sometimes people don’t realize the consequences of laws until after those laws have already been passed. Civil disobedience helps to communicate the harm that policies or procedures are causing.

The Cons of Civil Disobedience

1. It can result in jail time.
Many people who act in civil disobedience break laws in order to protest something. This results in the possibility of jail time, an arrest record, and difficulty in obtaining employment in the future.

2. It doesn’t always create change.
Sometimes civil disobedience simply creates a tougher resistance to the issues at hand. The riots in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray are an excellent example of this disadvantage.

3. It takes time.
The Civil Rights Movement took years to achieve gains for equality. For marriage equality in the US, some couples fought through civil disobedience for over 40 years. Sometimes it can take a lot of time to win over the hearts and minds of a population group.

The pros and cons of civil disobedience are a combination of action and patience. Just going out and burning down a building to say it could be done is a lot different than a protest march that disrupts a community. If conducted safely, it can draw some much needed attention to an issue at hand.