Growing up, there was a very clear, black and white line concerning right and wrong, good and bad, etc. Throughout time, and gaining greater understandings for these themes, as well as laws, I have come to realize that these matters are not so straightforward. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has spoken about this notion of civil disobedience, and not only the significance of it, but also the time and place for it. For King, he believed that the law restraining him from enacting his and his followers’ peaceful march against segregation was restrained immorally, and that it was not just. He said in an interview that “we all have a moral obligation to obey just laws, on the other hand I think we have moral obligations to disobey unjust laws.” (MLK) As laws are manmade artifacts, they are not completely void of malice, or injustice. Therefore, King rightfully believes that in some cases, it is alright to place pressure on certain laws that are deemed unethical or immoral based on individual’s consciences, and simultaneously will not cause harm upon others.
Edward Snowden performed a ‘breach’ against the United States Government back in 2013 when working for the NSA, a controversial government group renowned for monitoring citizen’s for our own safety. The problem is that they are not very straightforward in the manners that they monitor us, therefore Snowden took it upon himself to release thousands of documents to the public, and not hiding the fact that it was he who performed this act. There are many similarities between King’s act of civil disobedience, and Snowden’s act of disobedience, however with King we do have the power of hindsight. While his persistence in carrying out the march caused a great number of severe injuries, it was on a relatively low scale compared to the effects it had on civil rights. Many arguments against Snowden argue that the information that he released could have led to terrorist attacks more powerful than that of September 11th. I believe that Snowden’s act of civil disobedience is very similar to how King defines it, however King’s description and example of his march is much more (I hate to say) black-and-white. It is clear-not only in hindsight-that the manner in which African American’s were treated was terrible, and something had to be done. It is more difficult to create an argument such as this one for Edward Snowden, as his head seems to be in the right place however this is not as clear-cut as the march in Alabama. While there are accusations of the American Government doing unethical things, and threatening our freedom, we don’t know that in the wrong hands, these documents wouldn’t be harmful to us either.
Snowden seems to be concerned for our justice, and he explained in the interview that he could have easily done a lot more damage [“by early afternoon”] if his primary goal was negative. He explained that he was looking out for American citizens. He certainly seems to have acted out of concern for our country, rather than vengeance or spite. He also could have acted anonymously, however he decided to attach his full identity to his actions, and standing behind them even though it has put his life and career in complete danger, and he can no longer ever return to the United States of America. He was very aware of these consequences when he acted, which convinces me even more of his sincerity towards his fellow Americans. I believe that King would probably stand by Snowden, as he performed them out of sincerity and concern for his country. He saw the country continuing in a negative direction and he chose to act to change the course. Whether the decision was right or wrong, I believe that King would have been supportive.a