You’d have to be living with your head in the sand if you’ve never heard these famous words: “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”
This dramatic discourse comes from the most famous soliloquy in the English language — the opening line in that unforgettable scene taken from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” The character, Hamlet, has a lot on his mind — and on his plate. And by using the form of the soliloquy, we, the audience, are allowed to “listen in” as the troubled leader ponders his future and the decisions that weigh heavily on his mind.
By definition, the character is speaking aloud in the belief that he’s all alone. Sometimes, as in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” or “Romeo and Juliet,” while the speaker is anguishing over the next step to take, there are others close by or hear their musings.
For a modern-day example, let’s consider President Donald Trump, who has been taken to sharing his soliloquy on Black Americans, punctuated by the word “infestation.”
Trump has become a master at the shell game, confusing simple-minded Americans with ease as he moves a series of shells across the horizon — confident that he can divert our attention away from the ball that is hidden under one of the shells. Thus, when we chose the shell that we believe hides the prize, there’s nothing there.
Of course, Trump is not the first to master this con man’s artistry — but maybe he has taken it to an entirely new level. So, when he refers to “The Squad,” or to Rep. Elijah Cummings, or Rep. John Lewis, or Ebola victims in Africa, or brown-skinned immigrants from Guatemala, Mexico and Columbia — and then employs phrases like “infested,” I am not sure if he believes what he’s saying or just wants to confuse the masses.
What really troubles me is how the vast majority of his Republican colleagues have so little to say in response to his offense language and demeaning depictions of other human beings — men and women whose skin colors are not lily white but rather black and brown. When Trump takes off on his infrequent tirades, his friends and foes sit like a horde of chirping crickets — rubbing their legs together in fast and furious motion — while remaining ominously silent.
Yes, there are times when silence is golden. And sometimes it is the best strategy to ignore ignorance. But every once in a while, those who are so-called leaders of our great nation must challenge voices, even those of the president, when the words that are uttered debase our brothers and sisters — no matter what their race, creed, religion, sexual orientation or national heritage.
What kind of human are you striving “to be, or not to be?”