Friday, September 12, 2008

The Shakespearean View of Humanity

We live in interesting times where economic waves, technological waves and political waves change the landscape of our world. However, it is essential for us to step back, each day, from the hustle and bustle of this volatile world and reflect on the nature of our humanity.

The questions which have come up for myself in recent days are as follows:

1. Our trust in man: How much can we put our trust in ourselves, let alone leaders in government, politics or in our religious communities? Do we need others to hold us accountable just as a government needs a judiciary and a viable opposition party for checks and balances?

2. What are our ideals and values ? What do we really stand for and what are we willing to sacrifice our bread and butter for? Do we care for cleanliness, transparency and honesty? Are these values positive externalities which benefit everyone? How realistic are our ideals and are there loopholes for us to make irreparable errors?

3. Where is God in the midst of our lives? Do we put God in the driver's seat or the passenger's seat? Is He a partner writing the book of our destinies or are we dictating to Him what we wish our lives to be?

Now that the nation's eyes are on 16th September or 20th September for a political tsunami, there is the rising concern whether this will be a peaceful or chaotic transfer of power in view of the incumbent government's recent crackdown on certain opposition figures (MP Teresa Kok who was released after one week in jail and blogger Raja Petra).

The answer to this political issue very much depends on how we answer the three questions above.

The poet and playwright William Shakespeare was right in his assessment of man's nature, which is driven by wild storms of greed, lust, hate and fear.

This is why we should not trust in anyone except in God (answer to 1). We should also check that our ideals are based on change in the spiritual man within rather than in the external circumstances (answer to 2). And finally, as the Bible said, put first the Kingdom of God, and all this will be granted to you (answer to 3).

Hamlet's philosophical question "To be or not to be" can be wisely settled by allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to be Christ-like in all his living fullness. Then, we need not choose whether to remain as our petty selves or be completely a pawn of circumstance. Hamlet was not the average man who could compromise between these two extremes. He was brave enough to see that, in a world where man puts faith in himself, we can either be one type or the other type: A man of action or a man of inaction. And therein lies the tragedy of Hamlet, who decided to "take arms against a sea of troubles" rather than nobly suffering "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

In fact, the greatest freedom is having the freedom of mind to be jolted by the tragic consequences of our sinful human nature, and as a result of this shock to our system, allowing God to mould our hearts and transform us completely.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Act 3, Scene 2):

To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely (scorn),
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin (dagger)? who would fardels (burdens) bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

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Do You Want To Know God?

Do You Want To Know God?
Say this: Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. Forgive all my sins. I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose again. I give you my life to do as You wish. I want Jesus to come into my life & heart. In Jesus's name. Amen