Compare Martin Luther King Jr And Socrates

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Civil disobedience, an act of non-violent protest, involves breaking unjust laws both openly and lovingly (King 90), to bring about positive social change and uphold a higher form of justice. A higher form of justice, a concept explored by both ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, and modern American civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., requires that laws uphold natural and eternal laws – the laws establishing right from wrong in nature and the laws established by God. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates strive to uphold the justice of their respective societies: Socrates protecting the practice of philosophy and questioning authority in ancient Athens, and King seeking to eradicate segregation in 1960’s America. Throughout…show more content…
King credited Socrates and his practice of civil disobedience to establishing academic freedom in modern society, he said, “academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience,” (King 90). Through this tension created by both Socrates and King, social changes were made and unjust laws were altered. In order to uphold justice in society, both King and Socrates placed their desire for justice before their own safety. For example, Socrates, while serving on a committee in Athens, voted against the group to preserve what he felt was morally correct, he said, “I thought I should run any risk on the side of law and justice rather than to join you,” (Plato Apology 32c). Reflecting upon his act of defiance, he stated, “death is something I couldn’t care less about, but what my whole concern is not to do anything unjust or impious. That government, powerful as it was, did not frighten me into any wrongdoing,” (Plato Apology 32d). Rather than opting to do what he felt was morally wrong, Socrates went against the group and voted on what he felt upheld his ideals of true justice and morality. Similarly, King and his followers understood that their acts of defiance would require that they “prepare for direct action,” meaning that their actions could put them in direct physical harm. Also, King knew that there would be a lot of opposition to his and his followers’ actions, but he continued in the quest of preserving what he believed was just. King, in congruence with Socrates, placed justice above himself and the safety of his followers, as be believed that “…it is immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence,” (King, 92). King and Socrates fought to find the truth and preserve justice for
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