The Concept of Belief Theory
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The philosophers that gave birth to the American and French democratic governments, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were not clear in their stand on democracy. Thus, the works of Martin Luther King Jr. helped complete their philosophy. According to Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government: The State of Nature or the way man lived before societies, civilizations and governments were formed, was formed of a love nature and it states “…being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions”. This statement helps explain King’s fight for democracy as a way of trying to achieve this state for everyone within the society.
Since Locke says that in a state of nature, individuals protect their rights, King set to do that thereby putting a stress to the state of nature. The latter was protecting the citizen’s natural rights. Rousseau claims that civil society and government were formed when people lacked the necessary requirements for survival and therefore united to protect themselves against nature. This does not fully draw to absolute democracy because people oppress people.
The problem with democracy is that it is impractical and impossible for all citizens to share the same beliefs, needs and wants at the same time. The popular vote usually indicates the beliefs of the stronger faction in society, this is what King fought against as he states in his Letter from Birmingham jail “Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation” (6).
Total democracy cannot be fully attained. It makes it hard by nature because of man’s nature. Again, Locke states that being in power changes people, he says that leaders and rulers often “exempt themselves from obedience to the laws they make. And suit the law, both in its making and execution, to their own private advantage and thereby come to have a distinct interest from the rest of the community”. This is the statement that propelled King to continue his fight as the voice of the minority. King set to show the city fathers that are the leaders that people are equal, and their grievances should be addressed as equally as possible; as that should be the case in a democratic government.
In all essence, Locke and Rousseau’s concept of human rights gave Martin Luther King Jr. the stand to base his cause on. This belief that all humans must be treated equally and fairly pushed King to see that this was not the case for the minority who were oppressed and had no rights because the government did not consider them as people who had the right to be fairly treated. This is totally opposed to democracy and human rights.
Due to the fact that Locke (philosopher form the 17th century) and Rousseau (during the 18th century) are both from the evolution period, they did not get the chance to put into the action and practice what they wrote and spoke. King, however, got the opportunity in the 19th century to make significant changes in the way the American government carried out its activities and conducts.
Rousseau stands his ground and supports the fact that uncorrupted morals dominate within the state of nature. Through his Theory of Natural Human, he got the chance to state facts and as a result, explains the following:
The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine”, and found people naive enough to believe him that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors ad misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling upon the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.
This is what Luther put into practice in his short yet important and meaningful lifetime. King helped Rousseau put his words into action, he demanded for the government to exert a fair and just system on all its citizens. Being guarded by Locke and Rousseau’s philosophies, King fought to practice human rights and thus attain a democratic society.
As a key weapon in fighting for justice and democracy, King adopted the beliefs of his seniors Locke and Rousseau who might not have fully been in agreement with each other’s concepts but had the same goal, vision and direction, thus had the same beliefs. Since Locke believes that every human being is born with an empty mind and has to align himself with the good of others in order to live well with the rest of society.
Though Locke believed in an absolute monarch though he also believed that if the monarch did not uphold the rights of the people, the people were justified to overthrow it anytime. Rousseau fully developed, natured and further developed this belief into the separation of powers. The creation of governments, therefore, was sorely for protecting and naturing individuals who make up the society.
The purpose of the government is to protect the people who establish it. When the government fails to act according to the needs of its people, it ceases being legitimate. It fails to protect and represent it people. This was seen and fought against by King. The government was imbalanced since there was white domination over people of colour; this ceased to make the government legitimate thus breaking the balance of nature.
During King’s era, the people were not pleased by the government since the minority was oppressed. This meant that something had to be done, that is a stand had to be taken since the powers of a legitimate government lies in the hands of the people. This led to King adopting Locke and Rousseau’s ideas, thus leading the struggle for democracy to be shown amongst all irregardless of colour nor race.
Rousseau and Locke believe that a legitimate government is formed when the consent of the governed is given. During the 19th century, this was not the case because a fraction of the citizens in America and most part of the world were silenced. Democracy was not fairly distributed. While democracy reflects a popular belief, it did not reveal the general will that is the beliefs of everyone- the people’s power. King got his motivation form this observation to fight for a good cause, to give back the government to the people.
In conclusion, the fathers of democracy, Locke and Rousseau helped achieve a balanced nature that explained man’s perception as it defined what human rights are. This was the thought line implemented by King to whom today’s democracy in America can be awarded to. The works of man in a democratic government are what keeps the government stable and thus balances the way how people live within the community. The beliefs, ideologies and concepts of the 2 philosophers greatly apply to the human rights activist’s ideas. Thus, it makes sense to conclude that their works are in line with each other.
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