To Break or Not to Break, That Is the Question | Teen Ink

To Break or Not to Break, That Is the Question

February 26, 2022
By Silence_Dogood GOLD, Sydney, Other
Silence_Dogood GOLD, Sydney, Other
13 articles 4 photos 0 comments

 “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavour to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” asked David Henry Thoreau.

I believe that you should not break the law even if you believe it is unjust unless you have a good intention and have no other way to challenge the law.

In most cases, you need to obey the laws even if you believe it is unjust. This is because laws serve the purpose of protecting the rights of people, resolving legal disputes and making sure society is functioning properly. Generally, laws are passed by legislators, governments, courts or other authorities. They are valid according to social norms. As a citizen of a country, you enjoy the rights protected by these laws and the price that you pay for them is to follow the laws of that country. Thus, you have actually given consent to obey the laws by being a citizen of a country. Laws that you believe are unjust are laws too, therefore should be obeyed.

In addition, laws that you believe are unjust can be just to other people. Every single person in society is in a different situation and, thus, is affected by laws in different ways. This leads to different opinions on laws. For example, lockdown protesters may believe that they break restrictions to exercise their right to free assembly, freedom of speech and can bring about positive social changes, while elderly people may believe that their lives are at risk because these protests can spread Covid. Therefore, to break a law you believe is unjust can be unjust in itself.

Some may argue that if you have good intentions, you should break an unjust law. I disagree with this. On one hand, you could face legal consequences for breaking the law, which is harmful to both yourself and the people around you. On the other hand, you have better ways to challenge an unjust law in most cases. In democratic societies, for example, you could speak out on social media, sign petitions and engage in protests to influence politicians to amend laws and judges to reinterpret them. In some cases, you can even vote in a referendum.

However, there are extreme cases where the only way to challenge an unjust law is to break it. In such situations, you should break the law when you are well-intentioned. For example, if you were to live in Nazi Germany, you should break the Holocaust laws because they are unjust and you have no other choice. 

In conclusion, I believe that you should break the law even if you believe it is unjust unless you are well-intentioned and have no other way to challenge it.

If everyone followed this principle, Nazi Germany’s Holocaust, the Taliban’s Gender Apartheid and America’s Jim Crow Laws would not have existed. After all, “all men are created equal.”

The author's comments:

Throughout history, many have questioned whether or not we should obey unjust laws. 

In this article, I have provided my own views on this question.

Hope you enjoy!

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