Why Disobedience Might Be Healthy

“Being content with little is the ultimate civil disobedience in modern times.”

This is a quote produced by the American essayist, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. What is the relevance of this quote to the modern life of human beings? Is it about breeding disobedience is the society? In a way, YES. But the kind of disobedience Thoreau suggests is in fact a healthier and more sustainable one.

Thoreau lived a certain period of his lifetime in the woods, completely isolating himself from the society and consuming only what he needed to survive in his environment. Why? There is no certain or universal answer for this question. One might isolate himself from the society because he is sick of it. One might do the same because he needs a break from the continuous run. And another might do it because he is left with no alternative. Like us. Right now while I’m writing my thoughts, we all are trapped in our houses regardless of our will to enjoy the freedom and exploring.

Let’s get back to the topic now. Thoreau suggested a disobedience in his quote. We all are a part of this disobedience right now, even though we are unaware of it. Is it for a wrong cause? Absolutely not. As I mentioned earlier, it is clear now that this kind of a disobedience is much needed at times like this. But what does it really produce other than staying away from the danger?

It is no lie that the way humans acted throughout the last century or so, gave birth to this catastrophe. Endless amount of desires and endless ways to fulfill them, brought us to this point. So, should we stop yearning for more? Unfortunately we cannot do this at once even though it is the ultimate solution. Instead, we can start being content with what we have already. This is the way Thoreau followed to create his way of disobedience in his time.

According to Abraham Maslow’s needs theory, we all need the most basic needs like food, water and shelter for our primary survival. All other needs apart from the physiological and security needs and the need for a sense of belongingness are man-made ones. They exist in our social aspect, in other words the place we have as individuals in the society. Right now these needs are more or less irrelevant for our survival. So it is evident that we can and we must live with what we already have right now at this moment.

There are numerous ways we can use this isolation period to be productive. Many have wrote and suggested creative ways to do so in the recent past. But what we need to realize is that the ways to be content must be practiced continuously, even after this pandemic in order to bring us out of the greater catastrophe. That is greed, endless competition, wanting to become superior, abuse of natural resources Etc.

You can take Thoreau’s thoughts or leave them. It is absolutely up to you. But the exhausting journey we all practiced and expect to continue to obtain superiority, is a waste of time and effort, as I believe. After all humans are just another species who live and die.

For more information about Henry David Thoreau, click on this link.

For yet another piece of writing that shall keep you pondering, check out The Treasure - නිධානය, once again written by Rtr. Kisal.


Written By:

Rtr. Kisal Sooriyaaratchi
( Co-Director – Green Life 2019/20 )

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