September 2015 ACT writing essay sample
There are two types of laws: just and unjust. What is the definition of "just" or "unjust"? In Dr. Martin Luther King's "letter from Birmingham Jail", he says, "just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God". St. Thomas Aquinas further explains that any law that uplifts human personality is just, but any law that degrades human personality is unjust. From my perspective, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that the minority is willing to follow itself. If the law is just, people obey; if it is unjust, people have a moral responsibility to disobey. Meanwhile, they should be cautious about the ways for their own sake. My opinion is in agreement with Perspective One and partly agrees with Perspective Three.
Disobeying the unjust law, in agreement with Perspective One, brings about the progress of the whole society. Through history, it is struggling and disobedience that tackle the problem of racial discrimination and gender inequalities. If individuals had ignored the inequality and complied with the unjust laws, nowadays black people would still be segregated from the whites in schools or buses, and women would still have no right to vote or receive education. For example, from the late 19s, Jim Crow laws were enforcing racial segregation especially in the Southern United States. Under the circumstances, African Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to those available to white Americans. To defy the unjust laws, Martin Luther King led the March on Washington, delivering the epic "I Have a Dream" speech, calling for equal rights for all human beings of every shape, color, sex, age, size, and belief. It also marked the birth of civil rights in the United States.
The opinion of Perspective Three that such disobedience will result in chaos is not persuasive. It is progress rather than chaos that such obedience engenders. The Boston Tea Party, which defies British American of the Tea Act, represents a massive act of civil disobedience. The key event in the growth of the American Revolution contributes to the final independence of the United States. By the same token, Susan Brownell Anthony, a prominent American civil rights leader in the 19th century, plays a pivotal role to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. Those brave citizens defy the unjust laws and improve the societies.
Admittedly, to defy the laws openly would bring danger and harm on recalcitrant to some extent, which partly agrees with Perspective Three. However, to say defying the laws would only bring danger is an exaggeration, for people can seek proper ways to help others or themselves stay away from dangers. For example, in the World War Two, Nazi laws make it illegal to aid and comfort Jews in Hitler's Germany. Rather than defy the immoral law openly, people could aid the Jews in secret. By the same token, W.E.B. DuBois, the great black-conscious individual of the early twentieth century, advocates the black to receive higher education, thus becoming the elites "talented tenth". Fighting violently for equality may incur repression and danger; however, improving social status of the race through higher education can help the black obtain the final equality safely.
In a nutshell, people have a moral responsibility to disobey the unjust law, for it brings about the progress of the whole society. Meanwhile, they should be cautious about the ways for safety both themselves and ones they care.