“Is poetry subjective?” smoothly questioned my professor through a smug grin that revealed his expectation of a heated discussion regarding Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet. I was the first to explode with contention. “Subjective? No! Shakespeare’s immortal words do inspire and evoke a wide variety of thoughts and feelings, but the meaning, what he wants us to grasp, is precise. William Shakespeare, the man who spent his life printing his soul on paper, rolls over in his grave when readers surrender to their lazy misunderstanding and become content with their own personal interpretations. The Bard’s words are clear; some people just aren’t willing to listen.” After a few moments of comical silence directed at my over-zealous response, my professor scanned the rest of the classroom with a subdued chuckle and said, “Anybody else?”
I believe in Truth. Not the truth that people believe in, but, rather, the Truth that is. Thus I appear a hypocrite, yet I justify myself with this point: once I didn’t believe in Truth and I was proven wrong and Truth was right. Therefore, if it is both true when I believe it and when I don’t believe it, then it must be true. For the past year or so, I have become increasingly frustrated and disappointed in myself for seeing things the way I want to see them. I say whatever I want, attach the word “believe,” and steer clear of questions that might disprove what I said. I found myself blind, guided by the blind.
It might surprise you, but I am a theatre major. About a year ago I was in a play called A Man for All Seasons in which I played the character Sir Thomas More, the Catholic martyr who opposes King Henry’s divorce. In the play, Sir Thomas More rebukes himself while defending one of the sacraments of the Church. He says this:
“…Why, it’s a theory, yes. You can’t see it; can’t touch it; it’s a theory. But what matters to me is not whether it’s true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it. I trust I make myself obscure?”
That’s when I caught myself. I came to the conclusion that much of what I believed was solely dependent on “I”. I gave the appearance of my belief being courageous hope in something unshakeable, but how could it be, if I was shaking. Just as no man created gravity, I did not create Truth by believing in it.
Recently I saw a bumper sticker that said “God said it. I believe it. Nuff Said.” Truth doesn’t need my belief. The Truth I now seek needs no following; it stands on its own. And so instead of holding personal beliefs, I believe by obligation to what is true.
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