Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Wooden Gun


This American government— what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. 

16 comments:

  1. This references clearly show how Thoreau is against the administration.

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  2. This is showing that more than one man is needed in order for something to change something in the administration.

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  3. The message here seem quite clear - the government is not helping its people, but instead getting in the way of their lives and happiness. Perhaps this is partly the reason why Thoreau chose to go into seclusion (and moving to Walden Pond) and refused to pay his taxes - partly to live a transcendental lifestyle, but also to protest against a government he disliked…?

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  4. This makes me wonder of the government's real responsibility to the people. I believe that the government is to hep us and lead us in ways that would be impossible for us to do ourselves. Without the government, then the world would be hectic, and there would be crimes everywhere. However, Thoreau argues that the government gets in our way of happiness.

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  5. Thoreau is saying that the government is not helping its people. This makes me wonder what the governments real responsibilities to its people are. Of course I feel that some kind of government is necessary but it should not be intrusive (like the last post said). Thoreau is suggesting that the government gets in the way of people's happiness which re-enforces his point that the government should be un-intrusive to its people.

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  6. EMMA TAKAHASHI

    This paragraph portrays the real reason why the government is so powerful in the community. A single person cannot change something in the administration since the majority’s views will continue to overthrow. This is why Thoreau believes that there may be a slight chance to change something if you have a team working together to make a difference in the community.

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  7. Since we created "governments" in the first place, we imposed this regulation on ourselves. Thoreau believes the government is not fulfilling its true purpose, to help the people. Instead, it is merely a roadblock to the people's happiness. But then again, it is not guaranteed people will be happy without a government. What if the number of crimes skyrockets, because there are no laws to punish criminals anymore? Historically, I think humans always try to find a certain leader to follow. This applies in nature as well. Animals always travel by groups, with the oldest animal being the "leader". In a sense, a stabilized government provides people with a sense of security. In order for a society to function properly without a form of governance, all citizens must be very disciplined and capable of controlling crimes and chaos. I don't think Thoreau's idea of not having a government is realistic, since it's not that easy to prevent a society that lacks any form of governance from collapsing.

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  8. When he says the wooden gun, it means that its significance is based upon soul the belief of it presentsThe wooden gun is being used more as a prop than an actual weapon, it is only as deadly as we allow it to be.

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  9. Thoreau believes the government is a system that is losing its integrity because he feels it is like a gun pointed at the people. Citizens have to have it so it satisfies what they view as a government with power. The government's existence and success shows how easily people can be manipulated to make themselves happy or satisfied. In the end Thoreau believes the government is just a figure in the way of society developing.

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  10. Thoreau once again is being critical of the government and believes that it should be less controlling of the people. I noticed that he strongly believes in freedom, but how much freedom can a government give while still keeping society in order?

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  11. With a wooden gun you can feel strong, and you may think you're allowed to fire but truly you aren't. It's a false sense of pride and strength that overseers give their subjects to satisfy their desire for power while the overseer takes advantage of their subject's blindness. The subject is unable retort to any of the overseers actions because he's preoccupied with is wooden gun.

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  12. Thoreau speaks that people should be more free, and the government shouldn't be controlling over everything as this leads to getting in the way of people's happiness. I agree with Melanie, and that Thoreau's beliefs of freedom were so strong that it was what has lead him to leave society and live in Walden.

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  13. I agree with much of what the other people above say about this topic, and about how the government is controlling us or getting in the way. I also see an inferred meaning in this piece about the fact of the wooden gun. The cop that carries a wooden gun is just a cop until you realize his gun is made of wood. If a person threatened to take something away from you at gun point then acting in the best way to keep your life you would listen. If you then saw the gun was wooden, then everything changes. You no longer feel obligated to obey their commands nor are you scared for your life. Thoreau uses this comparison of the government to the person with a wooden gun to send the message to the readers that, the government has full control over you until you make a realization about their control and break away from the conformity of it all.

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  14. I start to wonder if the government that we have always had in mind (A system where it helps govern over the country and people) is true. He talks about how corrupt it is; perhaps that is why he moved into isolation.

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  15. Thoreau is saying that the government is not helping its people and society. Rather, it is there because it is a tradition, but it is restricting people from being happy and free. Thoreau seems very disgusted at the government.

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  16. While I agree with Thoreau's belief that the government often interferes with the daily lives of many of its citizens, it irritates me how he simply complained about it and then choose not to pay taxes. Protesting is fantastic, but if he truly cared about the wellbeing of the American people as a whole, he would not have been a hermit in the woods hiding from the taxman.

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