Why is civil disobedience on the increase?

A man arrested for civil disobedience by police officers.

In most parts of the world respect for law order has swiftly eroded. Reports of public defiance of governmental authority are heard from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Defiance of the law is not limited to criminals nowadays, but indulged in by ordinary citizens who would not consider themselves lawless."

These lawless acts take the form of rioting, racial conflicts and revolutions, where people take law into their own hands, often resorting to acts of violence to gain what they desire.

Why have so many become defiant of the law, and what has made ordinary people so callous and disrespectful?

Disobedience conditioning

Those in authority cannot shift their responsibility for conditioning the minds of people for such defiance of the law.

It must be said that individual lawlessness is very often a reflection of national and international lawlessness.

Just as delinquent fathers and mothers are likely to produce delinquent children, so, too governments that show disrespect for established law and order share in large measure the responsibility for the lawlessness of their citizens .

What inspiration for lawful behavior is it when nations fabricate reason for invading and plundering the territory of their neighbors, killing and maiming thousands of innocents?

For example, in World War 1 about 65,000,000 people were mobilized in the armed forces of the nations involved, and during World War 2 more than 90,000,000 according to the Encyclopedia Americana.

Many wars have also taken place since then. What are the effects of this wars on the citizens?

When so many people are trained to destroy property and lives on a wholesale scale, they are mentally conditioned to do the same, even when wars cease.

Since they have seen brute force being applied to solve problems on then national and international scale, it is not so difficult for some to reason that the same can applied on an individual scale.

It is not difficult, therefore, for individual citizens within nations to feel that they will obey the law until it outlasts their personal interests.

Then they resort to whatever means including violence, when their interest are at stake.

For example, it is not uncommon to see crowds or players at sporting events disagree with decisions of officials and hurl objects at them or even assault them with fists and other weapons.

Also students too often show disrespect for authority by rioting and destroying property when their needs are not met.

Poor examples

Another reason for the lawless nature of many people is typified by these words ‘fools make rules; great men break them.'" 

This implies that it has become more honorable to break laws.

And is it not true many of the past and present leaders who are singled out as ‘great’ men also fall into the category of lawbreakers.

These leaders were revolutionaries, who showed utter disregard for established law and who organized violent revolutions that took the lives of many people, including innocent ones.

Thus, the trend now is towards delinquency and anarchy sparked by the idolizing of men who have made disregard for the law a way of life.

It is preparing of the minds of the young to rise up against law enforcers in delinquent acts.

What their idols did on a national level they can do on a local or home level, when they do not like the established law and procedure.

It is sad but true that men of peace are rarely the greatest “heroes” that the rising generation seeks to copy.

Apathy for those in authority

Another reason for increase in civil disobedience is that many doubt the legitimacy of those in power. That is, they doubt their right to be in authority.

Seeing apathy or failure to act on the part of authorities contributes to a feeling of scorn for their double standards of meting out justice.

It is a matter of general knowledge that in many countries some people are almost immune from criminal prosecution, even being called “untouchable” by the public.

Public scandal makes us aware of the common practice of bribe taking by law enforcing agencies, thus eroding the trust in those intuitions. What has this lead to?

For example, a new development has begun to appear, namely youths participation in resistance of arrest.

Time and time again a police officer making an arrest finds himself surrounded by youths who assist the suspect resist arrest.

In fact, in some cases they have even managed to have taken the suspect away from the officer, thus nullifying the whole process.

Even worse the police officers may be attacked with the intent to inflict grievous harm.

Another even more shocking manifestation of apathy for law enforcers can be seen from the public view of police work.

Consider the following examples, one man climbed high up a bridge and threatened to jump in an apparent suicide attempt. As police officers were struggling to bring him down safely, the crowd that gathered broke into an organized chant, crying, “Jump! Jump! In a similar situation a short time before, another young man poised on a hotel ledge was urged by crowd to jump, mocking him, calling him “chicken” and “coward”. 

These are not just isolated incidents, but reflect the mounting disregarded for establishing authority.

Culture of Intolerance

A big issue on the minds of people of the world today is the establishment of their rights.

Indeed these rights will not always be popular with those in authorities or even sometimes with major populace.

 In many countries, minorities groups who have their rights not protected by law often find themselves the object of intolerance.

Even guaranteeing freedoms by law clearly does not always get to the roots of intolerance.

The fact that intolerance is hidden below the surface does not mean that it does not exist.

Even if people are not directly persecuted, they may be the object of animosity or their ideas may be suffocated.

Thus, if at some future time circumstances change and perhaps lead to an atmosphere of prejudice, latent intolerance can easily come to the fore.

Tolerance does not mean that everyone should have the same ideas. People might disagree with one another.

Some may feel strongly that the beliefs of another person are very wrong. They may even speak publicly of their disagreements.

However, as long as they do not spread lies to try to incite prejudice, this is not intolerance.

Intolerance is seen when a group is persecuted, targeted by special laws, marginalized, banned, or in some other way hindered from following their beliefs.

In the most extreme form of intolerance, some kill and others have to die for their beliefs.

These destructive actions stem from an attitude of self-determination, of independence from the present laws and standards.

To justify their civil disobedience they claim that they are just exercising their “rights.”


Wherever you may be on this globe you have something in common with all mankind—you are subject to some form government or authority. 

You may or may not agree with your government’s policies, but you will probably admit that government is necessary.

But it must be admitted that no one system has produced a government that satisfies every citizen.

Therefore, there will always be those who will use civil disobedience as a means to get their message across.