I just finished reading this wonderful work of American political though and history. Like all these old works that helped shape this country and laid the foundation of what it should be, these few pages are far beyond epic. He makes his contempt for the clearly hypocritical institutions of slavery, the Mexican American war and the eventual annexing of Texas, political corruption, taxation, revolution, as well as some political ideology that was and still is staining the fabric American society and culture well known.
“But , to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves non-government men, I ask for not at once no government but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step towards obtaining it.”
This speaks far beyond going out and voting, but actually getting involved in the system that says that it holds your best interests at its core and holding that system accountable to this statute. Letting officials know that the state and government is in place to work for the citizen not the citizen is in place to support the state. This was something that Thoreau foresaw and I believe as we are now, in one of the times in history where the common American thought as well as the common American politician believes their work is far beyond the capacity of the average citizen to understand, and would never acknowledge that the common American citizen is their work.
Early on he recognized and pointed out the corruption that was, and still, in the hearts of some elected officials, and the morality of and in revolution which this country was founded on,
“All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.”
If you’re looking for a book that was foundational in its day and still as revolutionary a hundred and seventy something years later, pick this up and give it a read. If you are a Thoreau reader this is somewhat a divergence away from the birds and the trees but wonderful nonetheless.