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"That we should rock the boat" is extremely relevant in light of recent scandulous events in the United States. In today's news, for instance, it has been reported that the governor of a Northeastern state banned the press; this report comes from The Washington Post:
It was revealed this week that the outspoken LePage, who is no stranger to heated rhetoric, ordered his staff to stop working with reporters from three of the state’s major newspapers.
The disallowing of bad press has been practiced before this by other and more important political figures. This refusal to allow any "rocking of the boat" is, indeed, disconcerting to those who love freedom.
"Rocking the boat" has been practiced by some of America's greatest. Certainly, the revolutionaries George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, and all those others whose signatures are on the Declaration of Independence rebelled against complacency. His contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay "Self-Reliance,"
Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company in which the members agree for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.
Further, Emerson declares, "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." And, he reminds people that the self-reliant will triumph over the "tyranny of time." It is, Emerson argues, the "terror of opinion" that makes people moral cowards.
Henry David Thoreau committed civil disobedience when he refused to pay a tax because the money supported a Mexican war which Thoreau was against. It was Thoreau's thoughts that Martin Luther King used in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail when he was arrested for participating in a civil rights demonstration. King wrote,
I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.
No change happens when conformity and complacency exist. Without "rocking the boat" the "boat" may lose its proper course.
The major argument for the idea that we should rock the boat is that if we do not rock the boat, we become conformist and we lose our own individuality and our own integrity.
The idea that we should not rock the boat comes from the idea that the majority of people are always right. If the majority believes in something, it must be right. Because of this, it does not make sense for us to go against them. Therefore, we should conform and should not rock the boat.
But if we do this, we risk losing our individuality. One of the things that we are given as human beings is the ability to think for ourselves. If we simply conform to what everyone else thinks, we are essentially giving away this part of our humanity.
Perhaps more importantly, we are giving away our integrity if we conform blindly. We are letting other people make moral decisions. This is not a good thing to do because the majority is not always right. For example, imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had simply chosen not to rock the boat. It is possible that our society would be much less just today.
Therefore, it is important to rock the boat at times to preserve our individuality and our integrity.
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