An in depth response to Evan Carton’s, The Price of Privilege: “Civil Disobedience” at 150.
Evan Carton is a university lecturer who has taught Thoreau to students for years, mainly to students that are “intelligent, middle-class, well intentioned” undergraduates of the University of Texas. Carton mentions throughout his essay the thoughts that previous students have had on Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, how previous students can never quite explain why their views on Civil Disobedience are so strongly put forward in their responses when questioned why they dislike Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.
As Carton states towards the end of his essay, all of his students responses are “reasonable”. However, it is Thoreau’s words that are used, not the main body of his work that emotionally effects the students of his classes. Carton’s description of his students thoughts while in their trainers and how they could/would “hear Thoreau whispering” about how the students are being carried on the backs of the underpaid “sweatshop workers” that made the shoes. This description is particularly emotive as it is perfectly applicable to the generation we’re in at the moment. Many people never stop to think about how the garment they’re wearing is made or who by or for how much. Overall, this part of Carton’s essay struck a particular cord with me, and has made me think more about the origin’s of the products i use/clothes i buy.
In one respect, I understand where Carton has come from with this. Although I’ve never taught Thoreau, or would ever like to try to teach it, I did feel rather emotional after reading Civil Disobedience. Not, curling up in a corner crying kind of emotional, but slightly offended, slightly hurt and quite embarrassed. Thoreau makes a point in Civil Disobedience about the slaves and how although we may dislike the idea, we don’t do anything to stop it. I know many people, myself included, that have felt strongly about an issue, yet never quite gotten around to making any difference to it. Never quite had the energy to focus my attention on the pressing matter instead of pushing it away, and hoping somebody else will take care of it. Although, i do believe that we are all guilty of this at some point, maybe even on a lesser scale than something that affects the world, I kind of go against what Thoreau has implied. Yes, we all do over-look the things that we know we really should help with in the world. But on the other hand, one person rarely makes all the difference. In order to resolve a problem, slavery for example, it is hundreds/thousands of people that are willing to work, help, sacrifice for the cause. Yet in the era we’re living in now, it’s not likely that this will ever happen.
Page 571 – All of these objections are reasonable…..
Why do the students hate Thoreau. legit reasons for it.