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The philosopher Goethe wrote that Hamlet is a play that depicts the story of a soul on whom a great deed is laid. The tragedy, he went on, is that this soul is unequal to the task.1 It seems to me that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the story of you and I. Baha’u’llah says that no task is given to us which is beyond our capacity. Nevertheless, life’s task often seems beyond us especially if that task is in the context of what to many of us who work within the Baha’i system often seems like an “impossible dream.” We seem to be unequal to life’s burden, its apprecenticeship. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Goethe in John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor, Michael Morrison, Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 1997, p.126. <_<


John Barrymore played Hamlet in New York in 1922-1924. “Barrymore heralded,” said Morrison, “the dawn of a new age of theatre.”2 Barrymore’s view of Hamlet was the same as Goethe’s; namely, that the task laid on man was more than he could handle. The play opened on November 16th 1922, just four weeks before Shoghi Effendi returned to Haifa to take up the burden of the Guardianship, a task, a role, which his wife said called him by the 1950s, thirty years later, to “sorrow and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness.”3 Being equal to a task does not mean one does not get discouraged, does not feel defeated. Being equal to a task is, among other things, a philosophical position which, for the Baha’i at least, is rooted in theological doctrine and means that one keeps on going, keeps on following that star “no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.”4–Ron Price with thanks to 2 Morrison, op.cit., p.304; 3Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, p. 451 and 4 “The Impossible Dream,” Man of La Mancha, Musical 1965. :rolleyes:


You both rose to be artists(1)

of winged imaginations

and reinvented both your

cause and yourselves,

product of resolve, labour

spiritual metamorphosis.


So little was the little

that we knew, then,

and little even now

for the task so few:

heaven’s humble handful.


The crucible of transformation

you took us through, grinding,

joyful, natural, organic, forged

something new, oriented to action,

exegisis evolving with community,

expounding knowledge, arousing

response, satisfying, transcending

the need of the moment, serving

the future’s meaning as well as

the past’s, heightening the horizon,

intensifying the vision of the faithful

for the impossible dream, its idealistic,

its improbable, its quixotic elements

and thousands of practical bits

for the manual that would quide us

through the tenth and final stage of history :blink:

which opened just after you led us to

the beginning of that Kingdom of God.(2)


(1) John Barrymore and Shoghi Effendi

(2) This Kingdom of God on Earth began, such is a Baha’i view, in 1953.


Ron Price

July 20th 2005

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