Who said politicians and great literature don’t mix? Former presidential candidate Mick Huckabee posted a defense of his pro-life views on his website yesterday. In the post, Huckabee writes, “We recognize that each life, every life, is unique and that the loss of one unique life diminishes each of us individually and collectively.”

It sounds pretty similar to John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, in which Donne writes the famous lines:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

A key difference here though. While Huckabee admirably fights for the right of every person to live, Donne is writing about his expected death. As he writes, Donne is wracked by what he assumes to be the plague. At the time, London was suffering from an epidemic of the disease. Donne was stricken, and as he lay in bed suffering the church bells of the city rang out announcing when others, suffering of the same disease, had died.

Not only was Donne thinking of the death of his beloved parishioners, but he saw their deaths and his own suffering as a means to make him more holy. Oh, if Huckabee could say, as Donne so beautifully does,

affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

If Huckabee could say that–then he would be a politician I could endorse!

P.S. Read the full Devotions upon Emergent Occasions as well as Donne’s last sermon, Death’s Duel, at Project Gutenberg or the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Read more about John Donne, his life, and his writing on death in The Art of Dying.


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