Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Civil Disobedience

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.
— Exodus 23:2

Every day I run into someone so turned off by Trump she's dropped out.

Her diversion of choice varies—job, kids, pets, prayer, TV, travel, sports, shopping, art, literature, Facebook, food, alcohol, pills, joints—but not the feeling: "I can't take any more."

No news here.

The vast majority of Frenchmen also did nothing to resist the German Occupiers in 1940. They played instead the apolitical
attentisme—the “waiting game."

Not to sound self-righteous, but I was raised by teachers who made us read.

Not only the Bible, but the Constitution. And not only those things, but Paine's "Common Sense" and Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" (the 1849 essay that inspired Gandhi and King).

Thoreau, you'll recall, "raged against the machine," which in his day had invaded Mexico to protect the property rights of Southern slaveholders.

He spent a night in the county jail for resisting (by refusing to pay taxes).

"All machines have their friction," he wrote after his parole.
"But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer."

Thoreau's message was clear: don't lend yourself to the wrongs you condemn.

Resist. Rebel. Revolutionize.

"If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth—certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine."

What's your plan for civil disobedience?

You need not copy Thoreau; French Resistors provide many models:

  • Heiress Comtesse Lily Pastré hid Jewish musicians in her chateau.

  • Gallery owner Jeanne Bucher held shows of the Jewish artists most despised by Hitler.

  • Mother Cécile Rol-Tanguy delivered secret messages hidden in her baby's carriage.

  • Teenager Jacqueline Marié smuggled political leaflets in her ankle socks.

  • Musician Vivou Chevrillon played her violin every day outside the fence of a Nazi concentration camp.
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