Augustine Tagaste

Author of Poetry and Prose

Clear Sincerity

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I wonder if William Shakespeare ever truly understood the impact his work would have on subsequent generations of writers, artists and thinkers. Heavy pearls of wisdom and an in-depth knowledge of human nature are found on every page and in every line.

 

One of my favorite pearls comes from the character of Polonius in Hamlet. He carefully advises his son: “This above all – to thine own self be true/ And it must follow as the night the day/ Thou canst not then be false to any man”. It resonates in my mind when I consider that insincerity and self-deception were as rampant a problem in his times as they are now.

 

As I observe the behavior of my fellow human beings it amazes me that a large portion of the population needs to be told what to think or feel, and when to think or feel it. It’s as if they don’t know their own minds well enough to be able to decide such matters by themselves; and to some extent this scares me. Like sheep they are easily led to a manufactured sentience. Even more worrisome is the question of who is leading them and why.

 

That being said, I have also found that many people are happy with this sad state of affairs and enjoy living in emotional and philosophical ignorance. Somehow the effort and the risk of thinking for themselves and feeling on their own are not worth it. Complacency and obedience have become the order of the day, they are socially more profitable.

 

Like actors reciting carefully chosen lines, people from all walks of life are constantly regurgitating what they are supposed to say without being sure of the thoughts or feelings within the words. For example, I know individuals who will quote the Bible for every situation and occasion in place of demonstrating honest empathy or offering constructive advice. When asked to explain the ideas or sentiments behind the quotes, they stumble in their lack of actual knowledge or understanding.

 

The same could be said for extreme political correctness. There is some insincerity and falsehood behind our treatment of delicate issues like race or gender. If we engage with our peers sincerely, openly and honestly then we will sprint beyond the social issues that hold us back. Instead, many among us choose to play carefully costumed roles and perform in character rather than actually being human.

 

Of all the intellectual and emotional crimes that a person may be guilty of, I find insincerity to be the worst. Feel what you feel, think what you think, and be clear about it. I can relate more to a person who knows and speaks their own mind than I can relate to an animated marionette.

 

In essence, why would you want to live if you do not know you are alive?

 

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