“Unto Thine Own Self Be True” … or maybe not.

Polonius, in the Shakespearean play “Hamlet”, utters the words we know so well, “Unto Thine Own Self Be True.” Schools have used  these words as a motto for shaping young minds. Countless individuals employ these words as a mantra to craft their lives.

But is it true?  Does life’s primary task come down to “Unto thine own self be true”?

Shakespeare thought not. Polonius is generally regarded as wrong in every judgment he makes over the course of the play.  The line uttered by a fool not by a seer.

There is more to “us” than “ourselves” – might that be what Shakespeare is driving at?  Left to that “self”, if it is our false self, we maroon our lives quickly in a dark space guided only by our own frenetic compulsions and accompanying judgments… a false, dingy and shallow freedom.

There remains space for a different prayer to God, as one author noted, “May I see what I do. May I do it differently. May I make this a way of life.”

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