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Midsummer night’s dream?


06/07/17
By Stephen Reno



 It’s always a surprise when something old occasionally seems to be remarkably apropos to the times. The relevance to current events of a line spoken by Theseus in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream startled me the other day:

“His speech was like a tangled chain. Nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?” (Act 5, scene 1)
It must be difficult these days to be a teacher of logic, rhetoric, political science, or certainly journalism as daily we all struggle to interpret statements from the Oval Office, the White House press room, or even tweets. “What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilate of Jesus, perhaps unwittingly continuing a long and venerable tradition of inquiry extending back to the beginning of recorded history. 
We all operate on the assumption that what we are told conforms to what is. Yes, we often bring to situations doubts, suspicions or skepticisms. But in the main, we wish for verifiable representations of reality. And the higher the stakes, the more exacting our expectations.  None of us wants our surgeon, attorney or clergyperson to fabricate. 
Discussions of what is reality and what is truth now occupy huge sections of our online news sources, of our newspapers and magazines. Daily, in conversations with family, friends and colleagues, we exchange news of the latest utterances, explanations, proclamations, protestations and remonstrations coming out of Washington. And we try to sort through them, seeking some explanation, some rationale for what is baffling and at times, indeed, deeply troubling (if it means what it seems to mean).
The British novelist Lawrence Durrell once observed: “Truth never shows a plane surface.” In another place, he noted: “Truth is halved in utterance.”
These are the conditions of life. Just when we think we know, someone takes us by the hand and leads us to a different perspective. What we see then may lead us to place trust in the one who does the leading. 
In the current national environment where “alternative facts” and “fake news” are the currency of exchange, we all struggle to find a trusted source: a person or organization in whom or in which we can place our confidence. In time, the truth of things today will come out.  Shakespeare offers that hope: “Gentles: perchance you wonder at this show. But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.”
Oh, how we should hope so!
Stephen Reno is a resident of Hampton. His email is stepreno@gmail.com. 





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