“To be or not to be,” or so said the bard. In his circa-1600 work “Hamlet,” William Shakespeare addressed the duality of suicide. The young prince is overwhelmed by the many challenges of the “modern” life yet was held back from his strong desire to flee it by an even stronger concern that the alternative might not be much better. Do we settle for the painful present or roll the dice hoping that we might find an improved, if unknown, future? Do we accept that well-enough is well-enough or do we risk the known downside for the hopeful upside?
Happily, most of us don’t find ourselves as Danish princes lamenting the murder of our fathers and the rather unconventional replacement that mom had in mind for dad. Still, we, most of us, anyway, do carry our own share of unpleasantness. We endure, toil and hold our tongues. We tolerate that which delivers sometimes considerable sorrow knowing that a disruption of those challenges may bring us to an even worse place.
Do we speak our minds, telling those who are hurting us of their transgression? Or do we turn the other cheek? Again? And again? If we cry out, can we take it back? Is it really all that bad? Should we just keep our mouths shut and expect that it isn’t as difficult as we fear it might be? Even if we get our way, we cannot be entirely sure that getting what we want is going to improve our lives much, if at all.
We humans have evolved to understand the value of our instincts. Fear helps to keep us safe. But if we never speak out, are we protecting ourselves from one threat only to expose ourselves to a more horrible, if longer-term, exposure?