Whose duty is it to change the way society is run when it is not being done properly? Is it the citizens? the leaders? Or should we not worry about it at all and let it be what it is? To explore this question further, let’s take a look at a man who took reforming society in his own hands. This man is Hazen S. Pingree, he was a wealthy business man who became mayor of Detroit, and later he became the governor of Michigan too.
Pingree as mayor and governor had a goal, he was a progressive reformer and had big plans for a change in the way society was being run. He dreamed that the wealthy and less fortunate could be treated with the same dignity, in his time the poor people were often treated just as that, poorly. Accordingly, Pingree took many actions to help make that change. When he saw that there needed to be a change in society he did not just stand idlily by waiting for it to happen, he made it his duty to be the change. As mayor there are many cases when Pingree took the chance to make a difference.
One of those chances he took was calling for municipal ownership of utility companies when they refused to lower their high rates. Again, in another instance he threatened to establish a city owned transit system and to veto the street railroad firms franchise renewal request, this was due to the fact that railroad firms would not reduce their fares. He also urged arbitration when the common occurrence of strikes happened, rather than the usual calling in of the state militia to act as strikebreakers. In addition, when the depression of 1893 caused severe hunger, Pingree made vacant Detroit lots available for vegetable gardens for the poor, this was so they would have a place to grow their own food. So, did all these actions from Pingree really amount to anything? by far they were worth it.
Unfortunately, Pingree’s actions were soon slowed down by a pro-McMillan bloc in the state senate, this led to his decision to hand over his governor’s chair and retire to a private life. On the contrary this does not mean his actions were in vain, he brought positive change to less fortunate Michigan citizens and he will forever be known as a social reformer.
This brings us back to the beginning question, so whose duty is it? In my opinion I believe that it is each citizens duty to give their views and beliefs on society, so it is evident that the majority of people agree we have an issue that needs resolving. From there if it is in the individual’s ability to make a change for the better then they should go ahead and do so. If on the other hand it is out of one individuals control to make a decision then I believe people in places of authority should be able to make those decisions, so long as it is agreed upon by the majority of the people.
(Michigan, A History of the Great Lakes State, Rubenstein and Zlewacz, pages 126-128)