Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yorick, we knew him well.

At approximately two o’clock p.m. on Tuesday, April 20th, a whale was spotted floating near the San Francisco Ferry Building. I saw the grim images on the local news and was heartbroken. I knew this was the whale we had been hoping to glimpse from the ferry that takes me to San Francisco during the week. Sightings were almost a daily occurrence.

Researchers determined, based on the size, that this was a juvenile and it died of starvation. When I learned this, the sad scenario began to play in my head. What we though was playfulness, may have been fraught. While we wondered at the grace in size, and elegance in movement, it wandered, confused why it wasn't feeling well.

Confusion is a scary thing. It leads to anxiety that sometimes leads to rash acts that we would not otherwise commit. Confusion impairs judgment, leading to foolishness and folly that we might recognize were we not so confused. And from the vision of this lost hapless giant, a metaphor emerged from my mind.

Like many Americans, I’m afraid for my country. I’m afraid that radical rhetoric is causing too much confusion. I’m afraid that confusion and anxiety are being used as a mechanism lead people to opinions and actions they would not normally have. I fear that what appears to be mere folly may in fact be disaster.

I decided to christen the whale as Yorick. Alas we knew him well, and his demise should encourage us to (among other things) consider Hamlet’s quandary:
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. To die, to sleep
No more – and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to – ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.
Confusion does not render cohesion. Thus, as we pursue discourse, we must do so in a way that leads us "to be".

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