Dilemma

“To be or not to be, that is the question”

Introduction

The essay revolves around the most celebrated, thought over and yet not answered question — “To be or not to be”.

I, as a 25-year-young woman, I deal with this dilemma hundreds of time a day and see those around me deal with it too. More appropriately “struggle” with it. We miss coherence in our lives because everything comes to a standstill of whether to be or not. to be what? to not be what? is it really “ the” question?

We will talk at length about these questions and the big and small everyday dilemmas of the Human mind.

To begin with, I wish to Introduce the origin and background of this literary sentence

“To be, or not to be” is the opening phrase of a soliloquy spoken by Prince Hamlet in the so-called “nunnery scene” of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Act III, Scene I. (source: Wikipedia)

Hamlet’s question concerns suicide: he considers whether “to be,” that is “in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” or, alternatively, “not to be,” that is, “to die, to sleep … and by a sleep, to say we end the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” To be, or not to be” is one of the most widely known and quoted lines in modern English, and the soliloquy has been referenced in innumerable works of theatre, literature, and music. In the speech, Hamlet contemplates death and suicide, bemoaning the pain and unfairness of life but acknowledging that the alternative might be worse.

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? —

However, while we decide to be and to live we have to decide what kind of person we wish to be. We always have the choice, always. No one is born bad or good. We choose it, each time. In small steps and choices, we make our character. Most of the time due to societal pressure, lack of understanding of a subject, miscommunication, and lack of willingness we take the wrong decision. Our decisions are severely affected by our immediate relationships and their decisions. For example our parents, friends, partner, mentor or sometimes even unknown people that teach us a lot about life. We will analyse, evaluate and discuss various aspects of life in which the dilemma lies. where we have to choose to be or not and why. love, spirituality, parenthood, religion, societal dilemma, identity crisis, political, economic, Universal, to name a few. Personally, I struggle with the dilemma of trust. I find my inner self torn between whether to trust again and wear my heart on my sleeve or to doubt everything and everyone and devoid myself of a fuller experience of life. I will state my opinions and solutions based on my experiences and understanding.

We will go on to ponder if it is even important to evade the dilemma. Or dilemma and certainty can co-exist.

It remains to be the most celebrated soliloquy in the history. We will briefly look into why? And also­­­ how does it secure its place in today’s time taking examples of pop culture and everyday life. This question will be taken up as in context of life and death and in context of being our various selves every day. To be selfish or not, to be lazy or not, to be angry or not. We decide this when we react. But apparently we don’t give enough time to this thought enough in today’s time.

If we take time to reflect on our self and think about it in all honesty whether or not to be a cheater. If we listen to our inner voice. If only we could have a monologue with our self. If only we stop and take a moment to assess what we are becoming in the attempt

of what we want to be, half the problems will vanish.

Societal Dilemma

Terrorism-

When a Human mind misinterprets a religious text and creates terror in name of religion it destroys itself first. The possibility of redemption diminishes as the mind sinks into the false. The untrue. Such a mind is restless and violated. The choice to be unkind and merciless is what makes a terrorist what he is. The hunger for power, the hunger for more. The misjudgement of fair and unfair. The belief that he is the one to control the innocent people. The bombs and the weapons are the proof of our poor choices. The Dilemma will test us, but we for the sake of humanity have to come right through it every single time or endlessly tormented unclean conscience awaits us. As Milton says-

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
John Milton, Paradise Lost

We choose what to be, there are plenty of examples of Humans who emerged triumphant in spite of adversities and pressure. We are bestowed with knowledge and decision making abilities — Man, able to stand and free to fall. (paradise lost) If we don’t know what to be one way of figuring out can be eliminating who we don’t want to be. Peace is the natural innate form ourselves we distort it with our will and become who we become. Thus we have no one to blame. Because this Dilemma is integral to life. There is no escaping it. But being kind is not cool. Power is what drives us all. Not dealing with major life crises and letting sickness breed in the head is clear choice and seeping ideas like terrorism in such brain is the outcome of it. But the one who is not capable of love in any form needs it the most. They may not spread kindness but they are always in need of it. Remember, a bully is the most scared person you will ever meet. Self-assured, truly powerful men do not try to scare the weak.

Racism

Being a racist isn’t so much of a conscious choice one makes. It starts taking shape much earlier in childhood. We learn the differences from our society. Often it is the very way one is. Sometimes a product of growing up among people who think that if their body does not produce as much melanin it makes them batter than other humans. Shall we walk with shade cards hanging in our necks, because as humans we fail to recognise others for their talents and reduce to a bundle of organs of a specific colour. It starts at home, the seed of equality, liberalism and love has to be sown at a young age while we begin to decide who we want to be. I came to Germany from India with my dream to study and learn, knowing that it another world out there which is nothing like my own. But the love for love and cultures pulled me through and I am glad didn’t choose to be scared but listened to my heart. There is no Dilemma, the clear choice is to see other as equal neither above nor beneath. I know of educated, responsible adults who have the knowledge and opportunity to arise from this abyss and be awaken. But they choose to sleep. They are not unaware but unwilling to accept the fact that each individual deserves equal rights in spite of the skin colour. Reminds me of the lines —

“Awake, arise or be for ever fall’n.”
John Milton, Paradise Lost

However, I have also come across people who have no formal education but possess a heart of gold and respect other individual without seeing their caste, creed and colour. After all there is more to us than our shade.

Sexism

Can we all do what is in our power to ensure that every sex is same and co-exist with love and safety. Can we bring a change in the world? The goal is not just to legalise but accept LGBT society and accept women with strong opinions. May be its time we stop casually saying woman are below, less than, beneath men. Be the one who tells his children there is no better sex, just better human beings. May we be the one to spread awareness and to help people

come out of the closet. There is no fix way to live life. Everyone has the gift of being able to choose.

And brings us to the free will of humans. The fortune of being able to decide

“For so I created them free and free they must remain.”
John Milton, Paradise Lost

We need a healthy world, where sexual orientations and depression is as understandable and acceptable. We are too harsh on ourselves. What two people do and how they choose to express themselves is not our outlook. It is their outlook. We should love them for being so strong. What are we against? How is someone’s sexual preference a threat to us? Why as adults we cannot look after our own mess? What about their choices haunts us? Who will decide what is the right way of living.

Why can’t we stop body shaming others in subtle comments and when will women stop thinking their life is about being skinny and looking pretty. Now Is the time to bring that change.

I strongly recommend cross dressing in schools so that at an early age we learn it is not how it seems. The mutual sense of respect arises in both sexes. So that we think twice before making fun

“… a wife should be always a reasonable and agreeable companion, because she cannot always be young.”
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

That is the measure of a woman’s worth. Her beauty. There is more to us than our pretty faces- our beautiful brain and our kind heart. Nothing will change overnight or by blaming one other. We need to accept everyone with wide open arms and see them only as individuals.

Spiritual

Today’s human is shaking and trembling and resorting to drugs and alcohol. Why? Because we do not connect to ourselves. Wifi connectivity is of utmost importance and value. The worth of breath is decreasing whereas likes and subscribes mean the world to us. Our choices are decaying us. Our choices are deteriorating our planet and we are leaving an reliable and negative energy for future generations. Be the one who stands for it. Be the one who supports equal opportunity for everyone. Just be that. There is no question.

“Do the wise thing and the kind thing too, and make the best of us and not the worst.”
Charles Dickens, Hard Times

There is a voice inside the heads of all of us which tells us right from wrong and helps us navigate our path. But it enlightens us only till we listen to it. Energy doesn’t lie, when the conscience says something it is wise to embrace it.

“Depth answers only to depth .”
Charles Dickens, Hard Times

The soul of every individual is a pure energy which is not contaminated. When it meets another such pure and calm soul it blooms like flowers. The positivity attracts more positivity. It has the power to change lives. Aren’t we eventually who we think we are ?

Economic and political

To have the quest for more or not ?

“Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

If only mankind could answer this, the world will be a better place.

This bring me back to the central theme of this essay, which is different from the original and conservative way of seeing the question. I don’t see it in the context of life and death but in context of those thousands of moment when we hit vices like racism and sexism and inequality in the gut.

When we choose not to be. Not to be the one who makes it difficult to for others to live freely and be accepted. The quest of more destroyed the world and killed innumerable. With them it killed the possibility of a bright future of those and their families.

Universal

We cannot change the world alone but we can realise that as individuals we have the responsibility to set good example for the children . We can bring the change we want with our choices.

As James Joyce so correctly says about what should be the goal. To live in people’s hearts. To do a deed of kindness that warms another person’s heart.

“I care not if I live but a day and a night, so long as my deeds live after me.”
James Joyce

Live everyday like it’s your last. Go out everyday , miracles are waiting everywhere. Be the reason someone doesn’t give up. Let your selflessness be the centre of the universe. Give a complement to someone smile at a stranger that crosses you wholeheartedly. There are no boundaries and no nations. We are the citizens of the globe. Experience the world while you can. Share what you have. Materialistic or non-materialistic. I believe that there is as much good on earth as bad. Through which the balance is struck.

Poverty and Deprivation

I have always been curious why one does what he does till I stumbled upon Othello and mainly this

“But jealous souls will not be answered so.
They are not ever jealous for the cause,
But jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself.”
William Shakespeare, Othello

When Iago is asked why he did what he did he says he does not know. He does not know the cause because there is no cause which brings us back to the original point. How everything is a choice. Consciously made or unconsciously. He did have a wife and fortune but he had his eyes set upon that of Othello. As a result of his choice Desdemona and Othello’s lives turn into ruins. It doesn’t take money to be thankful for what you have and be content with it but character. One can find the rich shoplifting and the poorest of poor sharing their only bread. It is who we fight to be, and then once the tough decision is made all the dilemmas disappear.

Further to explore how financial situations affect our decisions to be who we need to be I would include this line from Tennyson’s work —

“For always roaming with a hungry heart / Much have I seen and known.”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Deprivation can be that of love or acceptance. And accepting yourself and being the one who accepts other is what mattes and the world needs. Lack of resources teaches us life’s best lessons and makes wise. We clearly see who is a friend and who isn’t. we learn to live with less and with adverse circumstances. It humbles us. Also, Snatching what we don’t have from the ones who have it is unfair. The only legit mean to turn dust into god is hard work. Our society has always been divided between the haves and the have nots and will continue to be so as long as materialism prevails and the worth of a person is scaled with what he possesses. Poverty cannot shake a pledge. A pledge to relish only what is rightfully yours. The current time is of insecurity and fear. There is enough for everyone that mother nature provides but our own ways have made it difficult for us to live a life of abundance.

Love

Like a sufi singer my love is my God and therefore I will shower it on everything that exists, because it is created by God. But since we are in 2019, My God is like a light hearted, low maintenance fun guy who has travelled and can tell one coffee bean from another. I grew up reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and sense and sensibility, therefore the choice was always clear. What would I want to be? Not a princess that needs a man to save her but an educated and balanced woman ( Elizabeth Bennet) who can save many as her irrespective of their gender.

Love and attachment may bring suffering but forgiveness always brings peace. To be a sufferer or forgiver ? Its easy to pick an answer but difficult to live your whole life with that decision. Are we capable of leading a life of forgiveness? That is the question. Are we willing to create a world love? Love that doesn’t see colour, age, background, status and power. Are we willing? Are we ready ? ready to be the forgiver? These are the questions for every individual to ask himself and act upon. Can we forgive ourselves and leave our baggage behind? Can we began to love our very true self ? can we love ourselves without seeking validation about from others. Can we love our bodies with a little cellulite and appreciate it for its uniqueness. Can we for a moment be thankful for what we have, and not crib about not having an expensive pair of shoes. There are people in this world who don’t have a pair of legs. Humankind needs to decide ‘to be thankful and forgiving or not’. I wrote a poem couple of years back while my young mind was still knitting the concept of Love, Choices and Dilemma —

Second Hand Amulet


Now that time has reproduced
I am busy wondering half-awake
Is he more of a stranger or more strange.
We want every precious thing
may it has precious little to do with us.

Blue blood, Royal prince has come to make
tumultuous, ravelling ocean a calm pure lake
trivial conflict surrender to truth
packing screeches in the cover of sooth

Mist in his pockets make me suspicious
I am a woman peeping into front
Thus, named vicious.

But the tall fortune came closer
tucked in a grey hood.

The cover should be trusted he begged,
in the letter he wrote counting reasons.
But she is learning through deceit and prisons
here, dungeons are lovely and huggable.
I doubt, kiss me when I shout.
shout that I am just Adam’s double.

We are living in a very interesting world where women want to look like Kardashians and Love is supposed to be found on Tinder. Just Dummies looking alike after silicon inseminations and nose jobs. Is that what we aim to be? There is nothing wrong in wanting it, as long as it is not the society that tells us in millions of ways who to be. As long as we really and truly from the bottom of our heart want to be that. We stand here with our choices and the question, what to be?

Possible conclusion

Each man to himself, and unfortunately no one can resolve this dilemma for us. Or choose for us to be or not. I wish hope and light for everyone so they see their own truth for there is no absolute truth but variable. We see what we choose. I wish to voice my view in an assertive manner. Till we live we will live every moment with the question to be or not? Everything we decide to be, creates the world around us. Every thought we create is who we are. It is okay to falter and fall what is not okay is to never try. There is no strict rule to follow but one, follow your heart. We wouldn’t have Eminem and Tupac if they didn’t follow their hearts and found who they really want to be. This world is potent with endless possibilities. Time heals everything. Give time time. Learn to be alone and to like it. There is nothing more empowering and liberating than learning to like your company. The peace we are searching for is inside us. All I ask for is to be kind with whatever you wish to be. Kind to one another. If we threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s we will quietly grab ours back.

The solution is to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Holding yourself upright and never losing hope. See something positive in everything till the only way you can think is positive. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young, and the best is yet to come. Be the happier self. Be the loving self. Be the kind self. Be the change you want to see.

Background readings and inspirations-

Readings:

a. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selections from A Reader in Marxist

Philosophy ed. Sels and Martel (New York. I 963). Pp. 186–8, I 90–1, 199-

201.

b. Charles Darwin, Selections from The Descent of Man (in the Norton

Anthology of English Literature, 3rd edn., vol. 2) pp. 1647–52.

c. John Stuart Mill, Selections from The Subjection of Women (in the Norton

Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2) pp. 1647–52.

d. Matthew Arnold, Selections from Culture and Anarchy (in the Norton

Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2) pp. 1403–12.

e. Topics:

The Novel Form in Nineteenth-Century England; Faith and Doubt; The

Writer and Society; Fiction and its Readers.

Unit-1. John Milton Paradise Lost- Book1 lines 1–26 and Book IX

Unit-2. Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels

Unit-3. Charles Dickens, Hard times.

Unit-4. William Shakespeare, Othello.

My understanding of the undertaken subject has been developed through these literary writings-

Nineteenth-Century European Realism(ii)

Unit-1. Honore de Balzac- Old Goriot

Unit- 2. Gustav Flaubert- Madame Bovary

Unit- 3. Emile Zola- Therese Raquin

And these contemporary literary writings-

Unit-1. Chinua Achebe- Things Fall Apart

Unit-2. Nadine Gordimer- My Son’story

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