Back in World War II, my grandparents and great-grandparents survived the unimaginable horrors of war. They were taken by the Chinese and put into prison camps to work and suffer on the brink of starvation. In such a desperate time, my great-grandfather made a decision; to risk his life and pride and sacrifice his wedding ring to secretly purchase a single egg. Instead of conforming to the strict protocol of his prison guards, my great-grandfather decided to commit this seemingly trivial crime to save my family. Through such disobedience, he was able to give my relatives enough energy to endure the rest of their time in the camp.

Disobedience is an odd trait because although we have all been taught to color within the lines, follow classroom protocol, and become accustomed to becoming “obedient,” it has worked as the springboard to social progress that changed our world for the better. Disobedience truly “is man’s original virtue.”

To see whether disobedience really has promoted such benefits, we can turn back the pages of American history to the birth of our country. Because America’s colonists found patriotism and our founding fathers decided to rebel against King George III, our country was able to be born.

Let us not misinterpret this momentous event in history, though. These colonists’ disobedience produced such progressive results because their intentions behind these actions were of goodwill; in other words, they utilized well-intentioned disobedience. The American Revolution was the epitome of a means to an end, an end that would give future Americans the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If the intention to promote the values of America and move away from the chains of Great Britain was not instilled, Crispus Attucks’s death would have been in vain, the Declaration of Independence would have been simply child-like trouble, and our country would not have left the king’s nest. So, disobedience is not the sole factor in social progress: well-intentioned obedience is. 

Another instance of obedience is one that controversial, something that has been debated upon since the supposed beginning of our species: Adam and Eve. This story is one that is usually told in caution, words that are spoken with warning. However, I see their story of disobeying God and being banished from Eden as one that sprung a possibility for more. After all, because of their actions, the human race allegedly became imperfect, and imperfections can create a possibility for progress. The Forbidden Fruit may have been a blessing in disguise, as it allowed the pair and the rest of humanity to explore the world, see beauty and ugliness, and find the opportunity to innovate for the better. Their story parallels with the concept of disobedience; despite being something ill-advised on the surface, its underlying purpose could be a doorway to possible social progress. 

Disobedience truly is an odd trait, as there is no clear stance on whether it positively or negatively impacts our morals and human values. Despite it being the root of the world’s most notorious crimes, it can also become a tool for mankind’s greatest advancements. My great-grandfather, those motivated colonists, Adam and Eve: all of these individuals’ acts of disobedience respectively allowed me to be born in this world, created a country of diversity and opportunity, and sprung us into a world that provides a glimpse into progress. Thus, Oscar Wilde’s words may have held the truth, that “it is through disobedience that progress has been made.”