Letter from Birmingham City Jail

by Martin Luther King Jr.
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How are rule breakers positive influences to our society? Explain by using examples from "Letter from Birmingham Jail," "Antigone," and "Malala."

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Rule breakers come in a variety of forms. Possibly the first kind of rule breaker that comes to mind is a basic criminal. The connotation of criminality is that the laws being broken are in place for a good reason: to protect people or property, or enforce a level of decorum in society. Your question suggests that rule breakers can be a positive influence in society, and I agree that they can be. In the cases mentioned above, each of the rule breakers (two of whom are real people, and one of whom is a fictional character) break rules in a non-violent way in an effort to force changes in their societies.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," makes what will later be seen as one of the most compelling written arguments in support of desegregation. The pivotal distinction that he makes is between just and unjust laws. While just laws are rules that should be obeyed because they honor human personhood, unjust laws should be challenged for the sake of the community of humanity. Antigone makes a similar case. By burying Polyneices after his death in spite of his errors, she emphasizes the importance of treating all humans with a certain level of dignity. Now in our time, Malala Yousafzai has advocated education for girls in Pakistan (and everywhere) with exceptional bravery.

Rule breakers can be hugely positive influences in society because they break unjust rules with the goal of making changes. Rules and laws that do not treat all humans with dignity need to change, and rule breakers help us see the error of these types of regulations.

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