December 22, 2016

                 "To be or not to be, that is the question!" And this question is fairly old. It has haunted civilizations, let alone people in specific. The excellence of this question is in the simplicity and innocence of its terms. Whether to be or not to be, like a little child wondering whether to give the broken toy to a friend or not to give but here it is only extended to the sphere of life and death. Although this soliloquy of Shakespeare firmly deals with the issue of existence, it can, in modern times be extended to common issues of coming of the age that is Identity crises as well. The phrase Identity Crisis is in vogue. It sounds like a first world country problem while the third world countries have to still deal with issues of poverty, hunger, unemployment, ill health, illiteracy, social and political imbalance and the likes. But if you stop looking at the forest in general and care to scoot into it, you will surely find one tree which would stand for the issue of “Identity crisis” and breathing the words, “to be or not to be, that is the question” which the master of Romeo Juliet and King Lear has so brilliantly asked in Hamlet. As such it is a herculean task to deal with the “Forest” in general but if I may, I would like to shift your attention to that tree which stand for the issues of Hamlet; Personality Crisis and the freedom to be self, in the context of this discussion. Well it cannot be denied that we are all a part of a society and unless we desire to have salvation in solitude and live the life of Henry David Thoreau, we cannot absolutely amplitude ourselves from the decorum of the civilization. Our actions and thoughts will generate ripples in the little pond we live, so it won’t be wrong for the fellow humans to ask you to tailor your ripples to the norms of the pond so that your wavelength does not morally or psychologically damp somebody else’s wavelength. Often you will be asked to wear the skin of the herd. As liberal and as utopian the Roman civilization was, even it had practiced the course of “selective adaptation” where the lesser minds were killed so that the future generation will not be adulterated with less intelligence. Now the lesser minds would have asked the same question, “To be or not to be”, had Shakespeare been born before their time. So fitting people in has been the base of civilization since the beginning and it is morally right too. But when you ask few “subversives” to do so, there comes a little whisper from the corners of their minds asking, “What about individuality? What about the personality I hold? Who am I, if I separate from this herd?” in the process of fitting in are we chopping off the wings we have, or getting rid of the flamboyant hump or even trying to break the fins and walk the Sahara dunes just because the herd I think I belong to has such norms and hooves. Where it is moral for an individual to fit in, is it not a moral obligation of the society to understand his uniqueness and accept him as he is? Where else can we be ourselves? In solitude? Where can we tell our herd that we can fly, or go days long without water or even swim oceans? This world is accelerating towards poker status quo  and with such obligations of “fit in”, we are only encouraging more fakeness and killing originality and individuality and this will push each of us to the very question that has echoed timelessly in the valleys of civilization; “To be or not to be, that is the question.”            

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