Civil Disobedience

I've written about civil disobedience before, have taken part in some myself, & the odds are good I'll take part in more - soon! [p.s. yes! Tar sands protest in Ottawa on Sept. 26th. Find out more here] But it came to me just now that it would be a good idea to compile a list of quotations about civil disobedience - so I've just done that & am adding them in below. I'm also adding them to the 'Quotations Central' section of the blog, so you'll be able to find them easily any time you might want to do that. Feel free to send me other good ones, via a comment to the blog. Good quotes are always welcome!!

More & more public figures are calling for massive civil disobedience in the days ahead, since our governments do not appear at all likely to stop acting like anything more than toadies to the corporate monsters that really run our world.

The recent post 'Tar Sands - Civil Disobedience Called For' is as relevant as ever. If you can join the party in Washington, go for it!!

If you'd like to read about my own November '09 experience with civil disobedience/arrest, go here

& now, for the quotes!

First off, though, a 'Quote for today': “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, 1929-1968

Quotations about Civil Disobedience

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” – Dr. Howard Zinn

“You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there, obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there, kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” Richard Grossman

“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.” Mohandas Gandhi

“If we want ‘sustainability,’ we too need to start with an inner change like Gandhi did, like Nelson Mandela did, like Martin Luther King did, and we should be able to say and demonstrate that ‘My Life is a Message.’ – Kamla Chowdry, Vikram Sarabhai Foundation, Earth Charter Commissioner

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you sick at heart, that you can’t take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop.” Mario Savio

“Nothing is more irritating, and, in the final analysis, harmful to a government than to have to deal with people who will not bend to its will, whatever the consequences.” Jawaharal Nehru

“If [oppression] is of such a nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.” Henry David Thoreau

“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy, it is absolutely essential to it.” – Dr. Howard Zinn

“We are made aware of the proverbial forks in the road of life from an early age. Whether at commencement or from the pulpit, we are told there is a convenient path, and a less traveled road of integrity. From a Buddhist perspective, the adage is infinitely true. We face such forks a million times a day, even in the space of a breath. Life is permeated with possibility at every instant. What distinguishes one life from another is intention, the one thing that we can control. Rosa Parks’s intentions were deep and unswerving, as were King’s, Thoreau’s, and Gandhi’s; so, too, were Jo Ann Robinson’s and Virginia Durr’s. While the events of the world were out of their control, their resolve was not.

Maybe the best way to understand the future implications of the movement’s daily actions is to remember Emerson’s moral botany: corn seeds produce corn; justice creates justice; and kindness fosters generosity. How do we sow our seeds when large, well-intentioned institutions and intolerant ideologies that purport to be our salvation cause so much damage? One sure way is through smallness, grace, and locality. Individuals start where they stand and, in Antonio Machado’s poetic dictum, make the road by walking. Thoreau insisted in Civil Disobedience that if only one man withdrew his support from an unjust government, it would begin a cycle that would reverberate and grow. For him there were no inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction: ‘for it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.’” Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming <Pg. 84-5>

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)