Friday, November 12, 2004

To Thine Own Self Be True

It is a saying much heralded by our generation. "Be true to yourself." Polonius said it best to Laertes in Hamlet "To thine own self be true, and it follows as the night must follow the day, thou canst be false to no man." Back the truck up. Be true to yourself? What if you're a serial killer? What if you're a pervert? What if your real, true self is a lazy, shiftless good-for-nothing? Even a moron (if that's your true self) can understand the basic premise of text analysis--consider the source. Who is it in Shakespeare that tells us to be true to ourselves? Polonious, a pompous, fatuous, schemer, who-I freely admit-deserves to get stabbed and does. Shakespeare doesn't want us to take anything he says seriously. Now if Hamlet said it, or some other be-tighted hero from the Bard's good guy squad, we might should (to repeat a Southernism) listen. But it was Polonius, as useless a human being as that other guy with the cross-hatched tights in the other play (sorry, senior moment--Malvolio in Twelfth Night). So why do we listen? Because it appeals to our love of anarchy and the desire to determine our own truth. If every man does that which is true in his eyes, where will it end? Oh, I know, modern day America. In our heart of hearts, we know better. Jesus says that he is the truth. No one comes to the Father except through him. There is absolute truth, then. It is only in swearing allegiance to that truth that we can be true to ourselves and others. What must happen is that we give Polonius and his hell-breathed words the heave-ho and be true to Christ.


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