Perhaps it has been a few years since you read any Shakespeare— I haven’t cracked open a copy of his works since high school. With red and pink hearts popping up in decorations everywhere and Cupid flitting through the air around us, it is tempting to focus on personal love, the sort found in Romeo and Juliet.
However, there is a line from All’s Well That Ends Well that seems to be a more accurate assessment of how love works, once we are past the melodrama of star-crossed teenagers and into adulthood: “Love all, trust a few, do wrong with none”. That line is so much bigger than a box of chocolates or a dozen roses. It illustrates how we must have a love for humanity, and in one line suggests how we are all connected in this world.
To love all is not entirely possible, but the general idea in there is a sound one. Showing kindness or generosity, or even just being polite to everyone, is a type of love. The very idea is based on simply being a decent human being while interacting with everyday strangers. I like that reminder.
To trust a few seems to suggest we build trust into the foundation of our tribes. Trusting a few implies we have it in us to create a circle of interdependence, to build a strong network of those few we can rely upon, and in turn will support. Personally, I find this to be the bigger challenge (and the most enticing idea) than loving all or doing right by everyone. In order to trust a few, we have to slow down just a little and really get to know people, and this is the year for it. Just as 2020 issued challenges for connecting with people, the challenge of 2021 is going to be preserving those connections we all worked so hard to build.
Finally, to do wrong to none is something of self-care, wouldn’t you say? Yes, the meaning comes through: avoid hurting anyone. However, in our quietest moments, knowing we would not wrong a stranger is a form of personal strength and something we have to care enough to nurture on a personal level. There is strength in knowing we can do right by all and have confidence in the decisive action of leaving others unscathed.
All good thoughts, wouldn’t you say? Here’s to Shakespeare, to society, and to you: have a lovely February!