Thoreau believes that the individual needs to stand up for what they believe. He does not like the government in Massachusetts or America's government. Thoreau talks about how the government doesn't do anything, the people do; how the government actually holds the country back in some cases; how the government even manipulates people to bend at its will. He states that at the time you could not be associated with the government without disgrace. Because of this he believes that people should do what's right and not what the majority is doing. He also discusses the military and how the soldiers are being forced to go into battle even if they do not believe what they are doing is right. He says that these men have the same worth as horses and dogs and they can be replaced, yet those in the military are seen as esteemed citizens. Thoreau goes on to give many examples to back up what he believes. In part 2 he talks about unjust laws and should man petition his representative to get it changed and continue to follow the law until he convinces the majority or should he just cease to follow the unjust law. Again in part 2 Thoreau does acknowledge that if one doesn't follow the law the government will come and take away your property and money that you have. He does see this as a problem. Thoreau was also put in jail for not paying a tax that he did not believe was a just tax to enforce. He was in jail for one night and saw how he was not jailed mentally but only physically, he comes to the realization that government is ruling physically and not intellectually.
Thoreau has a lot of really great points. I also believe that if someone wants something to be changed that they should really take the matters into their own hands. I, however, like having a government and a standing army. I feel that these really are necessary in life today. Unfortunately we have not come close to a time where there is no need for a government, I actually feel that we need a government now more than ever. If all other nations didn't have a government and no one could remember a time when government was around, I think that not having a government could work. Thoreau did state however that he didn't not want a government, he just wanted a better one. I don't think that America has accomplished that. Although it's not the government's fault as much as it is the people's faults. Thoreau said that the government didn't do anything, the people did. I absolutely agree with this!! The government doesn't change unless it goes through a lengthy process of getting a law changed or something added on, however the people who are running the government and associated with the government are the ones that change. These people enforce the rules and interpret it how they see fit, and I think this is where the problem comes in today. Today the beliefs are portrayed so far one way or the other politicians forget about the middle. Because of this the people that get elected have beliefs that are usually far one way or the other.
As for Thoreau's time in jail, I see this as something quite humorous. He talks about how after spending a night in jail he had so many realizations and saw the world different. This is funny to me because even his cell mate had been in there for a very long time awaiting trial and it was stated that he would probably be waiting quite a lot longer more. Thoreau didn't really get a chance to see what it would be like to sit in jail for his beliefs. I think it's really easy to preach something and not actually practice it. He didn't pay a tax yes, but he didn't really see what would come of it. Although he didn't agree with the tax doesn't mean that it wasn't being taken for a good reason. If he wants all of the states to be united they are forced to work together meaning that they are going to have to pay for a lot of things that the citizens won't get to see immediately. If there aren't rules to be followed I think that people would take advantage of this and do whatever they wanted and saw fit. This comes back to if people are inherently good or evil, and as stated before I think that people are inherently evil.