Thoreau’s Ideas are Still Relevant

Group 2

In class, we were discussing what Thoreau meant about being truly awake in his book, Walden. In paragraph 14 of “Where I lived and What I Lived for” he writes,

“Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly-acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air—to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light” (Thoreau, 1854).

We are not truly awake if we are content to live in a manner that does not fulfill us. It is so much easier to exist in a state of half-consciousness, where our actions are not derived from true inspiration. By living as others direct us, we abandon our inner callings and instead turn to work on something that holds no meaning. Thoreau changed his whole world in order to “live deliberately”; to shake off the mindless drone of purposeless life. He sought the meaning of what it is to be truly awake and shared what he discovered with us all.

Thoreau’s mission of trying to wake people out of their mindless monotony is still ongoing. In 2014, The Huffington Post published an article that aligned with Thoreau’s beliefs about living. I invite you to read it and share what you think.

John Locke and Gun Control

Group 5 Humn 221-09

John Locke’s ideas for a stable and fair society influenced the principles the United States was built upon. In reading “The Second Treatise of Civil Government” Locke emphasizes the natural right people have to protect themselves and their private property. Anyone who challenges this has declared “war” and the victim is able to use force to protect themselves. A big issue today is gun control in America with people debating how the constitutional right to own guns should be regulated if at all. An article called “Locke ‘N Load: John Locke and Your Second Amendment Rights” explains how John Locke’s philosophy can be applied to the right to own weapons in a civil society such as the United States. The article uses John Locke’s idea of preserving private property and health by any means when someone else tries to invade on that right. The post is saying we have a right to use weapons when our life or natural rights are being threatened.

Another article “Freedom and Gun Control” also uses Locke’s ideas to explain our right to bear arms. This article took into account the entire  issue of gun control and not just the idea of using lethal force when necessary. An important quote from this , “You can not privately own a nuclear weapon just because you happen to think that it’s good for your own self preservation. Thus, gun-control is justified to the extent that it’s for the good of the public.” Locke did emphasize the importance of self preservation, but his idea differed slightly when people came into a united society. The idea of a society is we have to abide by certain laws and regulations all for the good of the public. The importance of this is that overbearing weapons is not for the good of a society and same with weapons that are too dangerous. It is meant for the preservation of yourself  as well as society and when too many people accumulate weapons, violence increases.

Our group saw an important tie in of the ideas in the Second Treatise and some problems we face in a more modern world. It’s difficult to say how Locke would approach this situation because it is a right to protect oneself, but also necessary to keep the public safe. His principles underline an idea that it may be better to regulate this kind of power so community members feel protected rather than threatened.

John Locke’s Ideas on Natural Law Between Societies

In class, our group was asked to pick out a passage from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government that brought questions to us and then to take a deeper look at the passage to try and answer our questions. Our group chose passage 145 from chapter 12. This passage stumped us because Locke expresses that individual societies have laws that stops at the boarders of that society, and laws from one society to another are left to natural law. Before doing research our first thoughts were that this could not be exactly true, because in today’s society there are international relations that regulate our international laws. We live in a world where nations are interdependent on each other for things such as trade, and alliances that are formed between nations. Natural law seemed to be only regulated at an individual level and we did not see how it could be the main source of international relations. Once we took a deeper look we realized even in today’s world natural law really is what we have to depend on between societies. There have been great attempts to make laws such as the United Nations but not all nations belong to the UN.  However, at a global scale we do not have a legislative branch to make laws, or an executive branch to enforce the laws. Nations break commitments to each other regularly and there is really no justice system that can do anything about this between nations. Therefore, natural law really is what we have to depend on between societies. In today’s society there are many cases in which natural laws do not stop individuals of crime. For example, in recent years there has been a lot of interest on the drug trafficking industry. Between nations drugs are being transported in numerous amounts, and although border controls are trying to prevent it as much as possible, it is not putting a complete stop to it. This brings to question, what exactly is being done at an international level, and at a society level. Drug trafficking is just a single small example of what is happening without control. This leads to the larger question of how can the world work together on an international level to have more regulations and actually follow through on these.