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Why Thoreau Is Still Relevant

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Thoreau's abiding interest was nature, the trees, creatures inhabiting the wilderness, flowers and the mountains and everything in between.  He minded his own business and went about his life. How does such a man become an advocate for peaceful revolution?  Thoreau explained it in Civil Disobedience, "I was seized and put into jail because I did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of the state which buys and sells men, women and children like cattle at the door of its senate--house"" I was never molested by any person but those who represented the state......Wherever a man goes men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions."

Civil Disobedience is an instrument of democracy that Thoreau used and passed on.  It is a legacy for the citizenry to uphold the challenge of democracy.  He asked the ultimate question about humanity on this planet:  "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

Is Government like a beast that must be tamed, for if it is not tamed will it subdue, subjugate or intimidate the citizenry?  The first President of the United States, George Washington, understood governmental power, for he stated that government was not reason but force.  Is it the duty and responsibility of the citizenry to supply that reason for a United States of America?  Who is the public servant today?  The citizenry or elected representatives.

How much turmoil is government allowed to create in domestic and foreign affairs:  financial mismanagement of government and major programs, pre-emptive wars and restrictions on freedom in the name of security?  Have the two major political parties and their representatives ever calculated the countless billions of dollars they have lost to waste, fraud and abuse since the elective or optional war in Vietnam?  Is effective and efficient government achievable by the two controlling political parties? 

Is America like a giant tree unable to see the forest and unable to perceive the overview of the world because it is mired in itself with an emotional attitude that its culture and nation are superior to all others while manufacturing wooden men who are guiding the ship of state?

These are questions Thoreau might ask today.

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Henry Pelifian has written many columns and articles on government and current events. He has published a play THOREAU based on the life, works and words of Henry David Thoreau, a war novella and short stories based on his years overseas called (more...)

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