Civil Disobedience

Today I got a new exposure to civil disobedience en masse. All afternoon I heard the buzz around the office that there were some protesters around blocking streets. When I left the building sure enough, there was a line of wheelchairs at the end of the street blocking access to the legislative plaza. There were contingents all along Charlotte Avenue as I walked to my parking lot.

It looked pretty well planned. They managed to block the ways out of all the parking lots the big shots use, so they managed to get the attention of the movers and shakers in the legislature and bureaucracy. The logistics of getting so many disabled people in the right place must have been terrible. And judging from the number, I wouldn’t be surprised if they bussed quite a few in from out of the Metro area. Props to them for setting things up. They obviously did a lot more than just announce it on their radio show.

The protest was apparently related to TennCare. According to Channel 5 they’re protesting the lack of personal in home care because TennCare concentrates on nursing facilities.

If Channel 5 is right, then I question whether or not I could strictly call this civil disobedience. To my knowledge, the term was coined by Thoreau in his 1849 essay of the same name (though apparently it was originally titled something else). The first lines of the essay are:

“I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best
which governs not at all"
The part you see the most often is “The government is best which governs least”. In my mind that very much does not apply to this particular cause. These protesters are interested in more governance so that they can have a higher standard of living.

I’m really not sure how I feel about it. Ideally, everyone should be able to live in their own home and have adequate care instead of having to live in some sort of ‘warehouse’ as one protester termed it. I can accept the idea that the rest of us have some responsibility to look after people who are disabled and don’t have the financial means to live the way they want to live. So where do you draw the line?

I think the level of care is the real issue. Do I have to take money from my mortgage payment in order to let them live the lifestyle they want? My gut instinct is that they should be happy with what they get since they aren’t providing it for themselves. I feel guilty about that, but then I consider my tax bill. I’m not exactly educated on this topic, so I don’t know exactly what they get now, and how much more they want. They may be deserving of better than what they get, but there is such a thing as asking too much.


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