Does it REALLY matter?

Some elements of my work give me the opportunity to let my thoughts wander off on their own for a while.  Sometimes this isn't a good thing, as they have a tendency to go down routes that leave me feeling bitter and angry.  But sometimes it can come back with some interesting results.  (Just in case my boss is reading this - I was still working hard!!!)

I have been thinking a lot about respect, and even more about forgiveness, over the last year.  Forgiveness, as I consider myself to be Christian, is something I am supposed to do regardless of the wrongdoing, but I have found that I am particularly bad at forgiving people.  Probably because I have a long memory for grudges, and have a habit of picking things back up.  One of my favourite phrases is 'always forgive your enemies - it's the last thing they'll expect.'  It would be nice if I could practice that a little more.

Respect is a little easier.  I have always maintained that respect should only be given if it is earned, and nobody is automatically entitled to have it.  It is also my personal opinion that anybody who loses respect will struggle to regain it, because it has already been proven that they didn't deserve the respect in the first instance.  Whilst I believe it is possible to like someone who hasn't earned your respect, or indeed respect (grudgingly) somebody who you do not like, I think that it is impossible to trust anyone you do not respect.

That's where my thoughts wandered off to different kinds of respect - most importantly the respect given to a person for their achievements.  This respect can be separated into a respect for the person and for the achievement itself.  In 2012 Lance Armstrong, who had earned an admirable reputation during his road cycling career (most famously his Tour de France victories), was brought back into the public eye after being banned from cycling due to the doping offences that he later admitted to in early 2013.  It goes without saying that he lost a lot of respect, not only from his fans, but from everybody else.  Unfortunately for him, that respect is something he is unlikely to regain, and rightly so.  Real winners never cheat, and cheaters should never win (although they need to be caught first), and whilst I feel sorry for him due to his particularly horrible battle with cancer I do not think it excuses what he did next.  For me, after recovering from a cancer that has taken so many others with much less difficulty, the simple fact that he managed to get himself fit enough to return to cycling was nothing short of a miracle, and that's a victory he can never be denied.  As for his victories...

All joking aside, the record he held before it was taken from him is very impressive, and whilst he was found to have gained the record dishonestly, there are many people who did the same thing who were not nearly as successful.  It would be nice to hope that this was because the other people got caught, and decided to find themselves a new dream to chase, but then again it would also be nice to think that people didn't cheat in the first place!!!

Moving from sport to writing, I somehow found myself thinking about the works of William Shakespeare.  Everybody will be familiar with the rumours that the famous bard did not in fact write the plays for which he will be eternally famous for.  In fact, there are numerous arguments that the true playwright was in fact one of numerous candidates - mostly gentlemen of noble birth.  For an idea of what I mean - because my posts are full of enough wittering without a list of such magnitude - type "who was the real Shakespeare?" into your search engine of choice.  A school of thought suggests that the 'true' author used William Shakespeare to publish his plays because his own aristocratic origins would make it completely inappropriate for them to be published under his own name.  I'm choosing to sit on the fence for this particular topic, for reasons that I will shortly explain.  I have wondered (if you'll humour my personal belief in life after death) if that aristocrat has realised how the plays and poems were immortalised and has been quietly kicking himself for over 400 years? I think I would, if I were in his place.

Now, I just mentioned that I am deliberately ignoring the issue of who wrote Shakespeare's plays, and I'll continue by saying that for now I have no interest in the subject.  The first reason is a simple one: everyone who could actually tell me the truth is long dead.  It's a very weak reason, but I have always maintained that you should not disrespect the dead when they cannot defend themselves.

My second reason for staying neutral on this debate is just as simple in my mind, but is the reason behind this whole post: the plays are good enough that I don't care who wrote them.  We all have our favourite authors, but this is due to their appealing writing style, or their wonderful characters with whom we fall in love.  Surely in the case of literature, music, or any other kind of art, it is the work of the artist that we love rather than the artist themselves?  If you had a novel, or a poem, or a proud collection of literary loveliness, by a particular author, and you found out (with absolute certainty) that your books were actually written by a different author...how would you react?  Speaking from my own (anticipated) reaction, I would probably be furious at first.  I'm in no doubt that I'd rant out loud, and I'd probably grab a box and fling any book with the disgraced not-author's name on into it and shove the offending box out of sight until I'd calmed down.  But, because of my love of the book, I would probably return to reading it once I had calmed down.  The effortless writing style and the enjoyable characters are still there; the talent and effort is still there.  The only real difference is that it wasn't written by the person whose name is on the cover.  A big difference, and yet if you think about it, it doesn't really matter at the same time.

Returning to Shakespeare, most people have a favourite - or a few favourites - from the impressive collection of his works.  If anyone is interested my favourite is Othello, but regardless of your feelings towards them you know that you are looking at a piece on England's impressive literary history.  These plays and poems are not only being read, but our children are studying them at school, and they were written nearly half a millennium ago!  That's something that the correction of the author would not be able to change.

On a final note (because this post has taken me far too long to pen) I'd like to remind everybody that the schools of thought suggesting Shakespeare didn't write his plays agree on one thing: he didn't  steal  the famous works, he was given them.

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