Civil disobedience

Civil disobedience is a protest strategy aimed at creating a significant change. It is a moral calling to a higher law than the law of the land. This strategy is often used in response to an urgent situation. Civil disobedience often leads to arrest and being tried through the judicial system.

Examples of civil disobedience range from a sit-in, refusing to leave a location that is private or government property, blockading the flow of traffic to a business or a thoroughfare, or refusal to obey an unjust or immoral law.

Civil disobedience acts are done publicly with attention drawn to them. The purpose of civil disobedience is to empower and educate the public about an important issue and to inspire them to take action.

Civil disobedience has been a successful tactic in many social change movements ranging from the civil rights movement, the anti-nuclear movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the anti-Apartheid movement, and was a little-known tactic used by the anti-Hitler resistance movement. The Underground Railroad set up by the Quakers to free the slaves in the South was a courageous act of civil disobedience. The first known act of civil disobedience goes back to Lysistrata when the women of both sides of a war in Rome and Sparta refused to have sex with the men until they ended the war.

Civil disobedience has been a central tactic of the Occupy movement. For many this is a deeper act than a strategic tactic. For some civil disobedience is an act of moral integrity, to risk personal freedom and safety for the betterment of society.

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