Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Heralds: Those That Go Before

Milton was extremely self-motivated. Or he just thought very highly of himself and had the brains to support it. When something bothers him - he addresses it. Me, I might be bothered but I usually think "ahh, it will work itself out. Or someone else will address it." or "It doesn't really bother me that much, right?" Milton is like a…non-profit activist for the public good…and about issues and rights you didn't know you wanted or were entitled to have/you'd never even contemplated before! I'm not saying Milton wasn't influential - but I do think his works, words, and efforts probably have a more lasting/significant impact for change and at the forming of America as well as the revolutions of America and France (as stated in the introduction.)

This quote exemplifies and deepens this point…

"But the importance of Milton's pamphlet is not to be measured by its effect on the political situation which was its immediate occasion. In his enthusiasm for liberty, the master passion of his life, he rose far above the politics of the hour; and the "Areopagitica" holds its supremacy among his prose writings by virtue of its appeal to fundamental principles, and its triumphant assertion of the faith that all that truth needs to assure its victory over error is a fair field and no favor."

When I started contemplating this post…I had one mindset. Of Milton oftentimes being a hyperactive lobbyist for human rights. Which may still in part be true. But another thought and subsequent example came to my mind that altered my thinking. Milton believed he had a calling in life to create some great work. [We discussed this one time in class and someone mentioned it, if you can recall]. His religiosity and belief in man's capabilities (humanism, etc.) just added to this idea. Milton believed he had some commission to complete, per God's command, and his continual writings are just him trying to figure that out. The release of Areopagitica was not a glorious reception, as we've discussed. Who knew that his writings would one day influence our founding fathers and shape key ideas within the Constitution of the United State of America.

Abinadi preaching to Noah and the wicked priests. Which one do you think is Alma?
The example it reminded me of was the prophet Abinadi, from the Book of Mormon. [Don't know this story? Click here.] He dedicated his life to completing the commands God had given him. When he was put to death, he did not know whether his words had had an impact or not. It isn't until later that we see the effect his teachings had on Alma and the millions that were converted as a result of Abinadi's determination and obedience. There are so many others throughout our history who have had to face similar choices (Thomas More, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Joseph Smith, and the list goes on and on). Milton's situation can be paralleled in the sense of his publishing controversial (most of the time frowned upon) papers that cast dispersions and questioned the people that had power over his life. The courage necessary in such situation would be incredibly difficult to develop without the belief and insurance of the peace and reward available by the hand of God. Milton's lucky that he wasn't forced to lay down his life for what he believed.

Quote from Paul Halsall, Modern History Sourcebook

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