Thoreau: Justice by Any Means

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished in 2005. It’s one of the best papers I’ve ever written and it’s about one of my favorite figures in  American History. I hope you get something from it.)

In many ways, Henry David Thoreau has been seen as the darling of American pacifists and peace activists.  Thoreau has certainly given contemporary nonviolence activists reason to praise him.  After all, he did write “Civil Disobedience,” the clearest articulation of the purpose of and logic behind nonviolent resistance.  Although an American classic, “Civil Disobedience” is perhaps more famous for being Gandhi’s guide to nonviolent resistance.1  Despite the laurels bestowed upon him by non-violent resisters, Thoreau was much more concerned with establishing a truly just government than limiting the means by which he was willing to achieve that end.

Nathanael Greene & the Formation of the American Republic

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished on 11/10/05. It’s one of the best papers I’ve ever written and it’s about one of the most unappreciated and underrated figures in American History. I hope you get something from it.)

At first glance, Nathanael Greene appears to be a most unlikely candidate for savior of a fledgling nation.  His father scorned formal education.  He walked with a limp and had problems with one eye.  He was also given to asthma attacks that would keep him awake all night. Most damning of all was his Quaker background. In spite of all these perceived defects, Nathanael Greene was the man who the embryonic United States needed to secure its liberties and guarantee independence.  Without General Greene, the ideas advanced by more intellectually perceptive patriots would not have had a country in which to take root.  Nathanael Greene’s ideology leading up to, and role during, the American Revolution created an ardent patriot who led with action rather than prose and a nationalist who was bound to be discouraged by some of the conditions following the war.

Causation

The Sandy Hook Shooting made me think about guns, children, mental illness, the Bill of Rights, violent video games, and an assortment of related topics. I’ve also been thinking about collective guilt and the NFL. Concussions, suicide, premature deaths, and my role as an avid football fan have been weighing heavily on my mind since the death of Junior Seau, the first casualty whom I can remember watching play. I also play video games with violence and explosions. (Yay!)

While these topics might not seem connected, all three have led me to the same place. Our society’s glorification of violence doesn’t cause violence. It’s an effect. We glorify violence because, at heart, we are a violent people in a society that values violence. Continue reading