Question Two by Paul Haney

Issue 10

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. ~ Oscar Wilde


Throughout the history of time, / disobedience has been the progenitor of progress: / Romeo and Juliet; / Henry David Thoreau; / rock music. / When Rosa Parks disobediently refused to give up her seat to a white man, / she made it to the textbook. / We got our dress code changed. / Who in their right mind would choose Eden over / hot stoves, / traffic lights, / stolen cookies? / The one thing Adam and Eve couldn’t do was eat fruit from the tree. / Boring utopia. / All it does is piss off our parents when we drink their liquor. / We get trapped in our own little bubble, / yes indeed. / Knowledge within itself is disobedience.

America wouldn’t exist if not for disobedience. / We would still be a colon: / straight savages in cages. / Boston Massacre. / Boston Tea Party. / Donald Trump / (my experiences are extremely credible; / my friend’s little brother watches YouTube). / Police brutality and the ongoing problem of racism— / does this sound like social progress to you, Oscar Wilde? / Disobedience cost Martin Luther King, Jr. his life. / Jim Crow, / sit ins, / voter suppression. / My best friend can be black without people, / racist white people, / judging our friendship. / Disobedience is the root of human existence.

Disobedience is not cute. / When I babysat for the first time, / Nixon unlawfully spied. / I had to learn my lesson about jumping off roofs the hard way. / The world is flat. / Darwin, / Copernicus, / those who are not the “bible believing type,” / wallow in their dank. / Obedience is one of the seven fruits of the spirit. / The land was once beautiful with prosperity and joy: / stop signs, / school uniforms, / hypothesis of life. / The definition is blurred and the impact … immaculate.

Progress has been made and will be kept forever. / Susan B. Anthony. / Alice Paul. / The women who boycotted / the White House during war time. / I wasn’t going to do the dirty dishes my brothers gave me. / When my mom was in school they brought out the paddle. / Harriet Tubman, / Ayn Rand, / Hillary Clinton: / women broke free of the archetype, / incited outrage among the seniors who saw no basis in reason. / It is the job of the rebel to grip the nation and flip it. / Joan of Arc. / Serena Williams. / Pussy Riot. / Disobedience is, sometimes, euphoric.

Disobedience has created every change ever made. / Nelson Mandela. / Angela Merkel. / LeBron James. / Without rebellion, would there be history? / Infinite amount of social progress; / I’ve never felt more liberated; / the sanest thing I’ve ever heard. / Oscar Wilde knew what you were going to do better than you did. / Disobedience can change history in one second. / Haiti Slave Revolt. / Freedom Riders. / Cesar Chavez. / Progress is being made right before our eyes. / What a wondrous thing it is!


Source and Method: Worked together from roughly 1,000 AP English Language exams which I scored in 2016.

Paul Haney’s work has appeared in Slate, Boston Globe Magazine, Fourth Genre, Essay Daily, Sweet, and elsewhere. He recently completed his MFA at Emerson College, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of Redivider.