THE first few words of a famous soliloquy from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, were featured humorously, ironically and sarcastically in a recent pronouncement. It poked fun at its dreary, melodramatic nature, while at the said time it seemed to be placing the knee on the neck as a stifling choke and to hold the victim under duress for a handsome ransom. To be, or not to be, that is the question. Do you want to be a friend or do you want to be befriended as a foe? Perhaps, you want to be neither an ally nor an enemy and stay neutral. Again, another choice will be not to be any. Finally, you can settle to be all of the afore-mentioned. Strange but true, you can exercise choices or you can be manipulated or you can be dictated to. Conditions may provoke a contingent factor and you remain choiceless. But you cannot be a friend and stay neutral or an enemy and stay neutral. Guyanese are provoked to take a stand or a side sometime or the other in life, especially domiciling at home under testing times, continuously. True, there are Guyanese who are naïve or gullible; many are sensitive or smart; others are intelligent or average and then, you will find a few who are easily fooled or pampered.
Would you as a Guyanese want to befriend someone who is a liar, dishonest, conniving and slick? How would you react to someone who is shady, foxy, sly and crooked? Then again, would you want to hang out with a person whose hand is stained with blood, who is callous, who lurks in the dark with a dagger, who sets booby traps, who dig holes for you to fall in, who misleads you astray, who takes away your bread and butter, who denies you the needed support and who arranges for your demise? Do you want to be associated with a crook, a criminal, a callous character, and a catastrophic calamity? Are you prepared to deal with a traitor, a racist, a brute and a violent individual? Can you share company with a double- crosser, a hypocrite, a deceiver and an untrustworthy person? Unhesitatingly, should you not abstain from a dangerous, deceptive, villainous and rogue element? Why be in friendship with a person who steals, who covets his neighbour’s property, who fools you and who is a mischief-maker?
The mind tends to play tricks with us as we advance in age and we become amnaesic. Sometimes we deliberately forget some things conveniently and tend not to remind ourselves or others about devious events. Yet again, we hope others would not remember some of the many alarming altercations we encountered that we wished did not happen. Cause and effect is beyond reproach and the control factor slips away from us. Doubt and uncertainty strike indecisiveness, leading man to straddle the line between action and inaction. On the other hand, in life and death, the fear of uncertainty when dying brings about a torment and the possibility of ending up in a place labelled as hell, a place even more miserable than life. No wonder, an intelligent person may attempt to grapple with a difficult decision, deliberating whether to attack, defend or stand aside in this mad rush to live life decisively, decidedly and deliberately and then, only to re-track, sidetrack or run off track.
As the remaining days become less and less available, the clock ticks steadfastly, forcing us to look back and lessen our burden with a light heart. Guilt strikes our conscience for us to ramble openly. The dire need to confess becomes more and more convincing. When the bell rings, we want to be ready to accept any tale or toll. We want to be brash, bold or brazen to answer the knock on the door with a smile. Isn’t it time that we stop, pause, ponder and be privileged that there still exists a chance and moment for redemption? Don’t let the opportunity slip away, for, too late shall be the cry. Hopefully, to be, or not to be will unmask the masquerade. Do carefully choose who should be your friend and who shouldn’t be. Don’t forget, a friend in need, is a friend indeed. Man’s best friend has always been not a human.