"Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." Meaning of the quote plz.i have to write a well-organized essay in...

"Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." Meaning of the quote plz.

i have to write a well-organized essay in which i have to explore the validity of the assertion.

i have until thursday Nov 12. so any help is greatly appreciated :D

Expert Answers
Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote can be considered as a two-pronged assertion, which working together are beneficial to a nation’s citizenry. The first part of this quote, "Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect,” concerns the claim that it is the responsibility of a nation’s individual citizens to be at the vanguard of what manner of government should be in place in their land. Concerning democracies, this is facilitated through free elections insomuch as who is part of the government.

However, it does not answer the question of what type of government will be in place as that is part of a nation’s constitution upon its initial formation. In Canada here we have a parliamentary system of federal government. In the United States it is a republic type of federal government. Both nations are democracies and citizens vote for representation from their areas. Nevertheless, under these paradigms, the citizens must convey their views on what the government should do, how it should conduct itself, and how it should operate on a day-to-day basis to earn the respect of its citizenry.

Citizens must keep tabs on what their government is doing and voice pleasure or displeasure regarding government edicts. The citizens of a nation are individual ‘checks and balances’ in concert with the ‘checks and balances’ that are already in place in the land pertaining to the proper administration of government.

The second part of this quote, "… and that will be one step toward obtaining it." concerns the issue that citizens will gain the respect from government they desire when they are a major part of creating a just government in the first place. This is a tall order, especially today when there is so much distrust of politicians. People often feel that governments do not really address their concerns. Consequently, they avoid taking part in the political process and avoid giving input when it comes to policy formation.

In essence, citizens cannot be bystanders a let government do everything without input from the populace. Therefore, when putting the two assertions together, in a best case scenario a nation has an involved citizenry that makes its opinions and views known. The government works with its citizens to formulate the best laws and policies. Therefore, with all working together, citizens and the government both benefit. It does sound pie-in-the-sky in this day and age, but it is true that citizens of a nation will get a government worthy of respect when they take an active part in government and demand that the government is held accountable for all its decisions.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Basically, what Thoreau is saying is that if you speak out and let it be known what you want, you are more likely to get it.  I think there's no question that this is true.

Think about our own democracy.  The people who speak up and who make their voices heard are the ones who get government policies to help them.  For example, anti-abortion protestors have gotten the government to do so much more for their cause since they have started speaking up.  As another example, it was only when African-Americans started speaking out that they got the rights they deserved.

When enough people speak up, governments must listen to them, especially in democracies like ours.

I hope that's the kind of input you're hoping for.

adri-doms-mom | Student

I think it is basically to let your voice be heard and and get respect when it is given. Hope it helps goodluck.

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