Thinking can make it so (much better)
One can devote a lifetime to the study of Shakespeare's work. For now, I just want to consider one line that I came across recently.
Hamlet says in part: “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
That's a powerful thought about the power of thought.
If you consider the point in the realm of personal ethics or on the plane of global relations, there is considerable concern over its significance: one might conclude we can do anything we want if we think it is good or are content with it being bad in a good cause. Historically, that has had some horrible results.
But I am interested in exploring the point in connection with our everyday lives.
Is there a single moment that goes by in which we aren't called on to assess the goodness or badness of something.
Did you talk about the change in the weather this week; did you see that it was good?
The news media (yes, us included) constantly bombards us with information that we seem compelled to assess as good of bad, and most of us conclude that most of it is bad.
News broadcasters and newspaper headlines often use words that might help us think whether what we are hearing or reading is good or bad.
But none of this is reality; it is just thinking, according to the bard.
I would rather try to be an impartial observer and leave the assessments to others. It is a news-guy thing.
To be sure, journalists are not automatons free from developing their own opinions. Although, I have to argue that for all of the bias that people might presume on the part of journalists most that I have known operate more in line with Hamlet's point.
We are recorders of the other people's thinking, and as observers we do not necessarily buy into the arguments — no matter how frantically we may be taking notes.
I recall many times when, as a reporter, a source would be intent on convincing me to a certain point of view. I took their effort to be emphatic to mean that he or she wanted to convince the larger public through me and pressed on, simply nodding my head.
Is it possible for us to avoid thinking that creates good or bad or somewhere in between?
Yet, there may be a middle ground, and it can be found by realizing that what we think is not reality.
Expressed simply, it means we should try to “take everything with a grain of salt.”
If we do that we will be less likely to blindly follow what we “think” is prevailing wisdom (perceived good) and then follow that to a radical polarized thinking (or a dead end).
For example, as a nation we “think” there were immediately two poles of “thought” after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Such polarization — I ‘think” — leads only to more polarization toward which we blindly follow.
What seems to be lost in the public dialogue is compassion for two young men — one dead and the other a person who may possibly live in fear the rest of his life.
Of course, that is just another line of thought.
So tonight, when you have a spare moment (do we get those anymore?), sit quietly and close off thought as best you can (you can never stop that train completely). And just observe what passes in your life — the sounds of the street, chirping of birds, a TV in another room.
Realize that you can take a break from that thinking that creates your world — and just be, just observe and be content. There is a value in this life and thinking about it cannot make that better.
Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Blue Jays’ Martin has ‘nothing but praise’ for former Pirates teammates
- Penguins need trade-deadline acquisitions to bring toughness
- Artist born without arms, legs gives Hampton students peek into her world
- ‘Time for bold change,’ Wolf says in outlining $30B state budget
- American Eagle notches $61.6M 4Q profit
- Spring training breakdown: Pirates 8, Blue Jays 7
- Safety Vinopal, other former Panthers perform for NFL scouts at Pitt’s Pro Day
- Rossi: Pirates’ post-Martin plan comes with a catch or 2
- Weather closes Penn State for first time in 8 years
- Unity planners OK proposal for Route 30 retail development