Thoreau does not like the government. He believes that the government should basically just stay out of people’s lives. I do not completely agree with Thoreau when he says that “that government is best which governs least.” I think that the government does need to have some control over the people they govern, but the government shouldn’t have total control. If there was no government control then there would be chaos, but too much control and people would start abusing the power that they have. The government should be used to protect the people that don’t have much power. Ideally, the government would make things fair and equal so that the rich and powerful don’t take advantage of the poor, but if the government has too much power, they become the people that take advantage of the less powerful. Obviously we don’t live in a perfect world, and governments abuse power all the time. The kind of government that would “command my respect” would be a government that does help ensure fairness and equality. The rich and powerful usually take advantage of people that can’t do anything to stop them, so it is the government’s job to prevent that from happening. We run into a problem when the government is the one exploiting people because there isn’t much the average person can do to stop them. This is where Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience comes in. The role of civil disobedience today is to remove governments that are not taking care of their people. If the government isn’t doing its job, then the people have to try to change the government. In America, we can vote for who is in the government, so that is one way to change things, but other countries don’t always have that option. One of the other options is to protest. There are peaceful protests, like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and there are more violent protests. In certain countries, it doesn’t seem to matter if the protest started off peacefully because the government responds with violence no matter what. If the government doesn’t care enough about its people to take care of them in the first place, then they probably don’t care about the people who are protesting., so the protests don’t always work very well.
Image from https://lithub.com/jane-jacobs-on-civil-disobedience-and-the-necessity-of-resistance/