Sunday, 23 September 2012

What Kind of a YOU Am I?

In 1673, when William Kiffin (who was very wealthy, but also respected, not least by Bunyan, as a Christian gentleman) declined to discuss one of the controversies of the day with John Bunyan, "because of my low descent among men, stigmatising me for being a person of THAT rank, who needed not to be heeded or attended upon", John Bunyan made the following response:

What need you, before you have showed one syllable of a reasonable argument in opposition to what I assert, thus trample my person, my gifts and graces, have I any, so disdainfully under your feet? What kind of a YOU am I? And why is MY rank so mean, that the most gracious and godly amongst you may not duly and soberly consider of what I have said?

This isn't the first occasion on which Medawar has made reference to that particular protest of John Bunyan. To put it in a little bit of context: This statue is within a few minute's walk of where John Bunyan was tried, where he was imprisoned, and only a couple of minutes more walk from St John's Parish Church, where he was for a while a Pastor within the Church of England. He was, by 1673, a nationally recognised writer and preacher and by no means the lowliest person in post civil war society, though he was always humble. If Bunyan was treated with disdain by those who held wealth and power after a civil war in which thousands of common men had died for the rights of Parliament, and not, as it turned out, themselves, the difficulty of any genuinely common man making his voice heard through any means other than a riot, is obvious.

Which brings us to David Cameron, his ministers, friends and advisors, and the present day. It also brings us to the "Comment is Free" threads on The Guardian website. In short, the present day William Kiffins -and something much worse, which expresses hatred as carelessly as Kiffin expressed disdain.

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