Declaration Of Individualism Essay Research Paper The

Declaration Of Individualism Essay, Research Paper

The Declaration of Individualism and The Encouragement of Protest from Birmingham


Although the time periods and goals may be different the method for

bringing about change is usually the same, this method is protest.?? This method

is supported by two different people, in two different time periods, with two

different goals; these two people are Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King


Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from Birmingham Jail was an

expression of his encouragement for protest against tradition and established

laws and a justification for his actions.?? King, a leader of a civil-rights

group that supported protest against traditional views, encouraged protesting

against tradition and established laws that are unjust.? In his letter from

Birmingham Jail King states:

“It was illegal to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.? Even so, I am

sure that, had I lived in Germany at that time, I would have aided and comforted

my Jewish brothers.? If today I lived in a Communist country where certain

principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate

disobeying that country’s anti-religious laws.”

This excerpt shows that King encourages protest because in some situations he

deems it necessary, be it in Hitler’s Germany, a Communist country, or any

situation in which injustices are occurring.? In the last sentence of the

excerpt King openly admits that he would protest against established laws or

traditions.? King was against the traditional views and unjust laws, which

discriminated against him and his fellow people.? He felt that the only way that

these unjust laws and traditional beliefs would ever change would be by means

of protest.? He felt that without protest the laws and traditions would remain

the same forever.? Along with encouraging protest, King’s letter was also a

justification of his actions.? The letter was written to his fellow clergymen to

explain his prior actions and to attempt to justify them.? In the letter he

tried to explain to the clergy that his actions although illegal were justified

and appropriate for the situation.? He expressed that he exhausted every other

option possible and direct action was the only available option left, which

could make a difference.

Similarly to King’s letter from Birmingham Jail, The Declaration of

Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson to encourage the protest of

established laws and justify possible actions.? But unlike King, Jefferson also

encouraged individualism in his declaration.? His views are distinctly stated in

the first sentence of The Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to

dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to

assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which

the Laws of Nature and the Laws of God entitle them, a decent respect to the

opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel

them to separation.”

In this single sentence Jefferson states his support for the encouragement of

individualism and the need for protest against established laws. The

declaration was written to bring about unity to our nation.? Even though it was

meant to bring unity and similarity as a group it still encouraged individualism,

just on a larger scale.? The document states that we, the entire country, need

to unite to become an individual separate from England.? Jefferson feels that it

is in the course of human event for individualism to occur, and that without

individualism change would never occur.? The entire document is basically a

declaration of individualism.? “The Declaration of Independence”, along with the

encouragement individualism supports the protest against established laws.? The

laws of England were the established laws at the time prior to the writing of

the declaration, and Jefferson felt that everyone should have the right protest

against any laws that they feel are unjust no matter how well established they

may be.? Throughout the entire declaration Jefferson states how he, and the

majority of the nation, felt that the established laws of the time were unjust

and deserved protest. Jefferson’s view on protest is clear in one specific

sentence of the declaration, “whenever any Form of Government becomes

destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish

it”.? Since the laws of the time were thought to be unjust, protest was

appropriate and well justified in Jefferson’s eyes.? Jefferson stated multiple

reasons to justify his view that the colonies needed to separate from England.?

This document was not only meant to bring about individualism and protest, but

justify the future action that would occur to achieve it. ?? Martin Luther

King Jr. and Thomas Jefferson were both leaders of revolutions, and though each

revolution was vastly different, they believed in the idea that change would not

occur unless it was forced along.? They believed that change among established

laws and traditions could only occur through protest.? Two different men, nearly

two hundred years apart, with two different goals, and nearly identical methods

of achieving their goals


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