In his laboratory, the theatre, Shakespeare unthrones the age-old security of Platonic ideas that had held things together for so many centuries. But he gave some challenges to his audience, and therefore to us, and the first one was this: we are responsible for using our imagination to create the world we experience, and to create it for others to experience in turn. To be responsible is to be responsive.
His second challenge is to our human tendency to conform, which keeps us in the ‘corporate and collective cold’ that makes our world one of transaction. Shakespeare anticipated it, and Fromm describes it nicely:
Union by conformity is … calm, dictated by routine, and for this very reason is insufficient to pacify the anxiety of separateness. The incidence of alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive sexualism, and suicide in contemporary Western society are symptoms of this relative failure of herd conformity.
Herd conformity has only one advantage: it is permanent, and not spasmodic. The individual is introduced into the conformity pattern at the age of three or four, and subsequently never loses his contact with the herd. Even his funeral … is in strict conformance with the pattern.
Shakespeare’s final challenge is the one that he gave his own audience: we are all born as poets, which means that we can all imagine and we can all create. This being so, it is our calling to do so, whether as corporate leaders, or as people trying to lead life.