Of all the notable lines Romeo and Juliet contains, "This shall determine that" remains the most memorable for me. They are the resolute words Romeo utters just before he commits himself to challenging Tybalt to avenge Mercutio's death.
ROMEO This day's black fate on more days doth depend;
This but begins the woe, others must end.
BENVOLIO Here comes the furious Tybalt back again.
ROMEO Alive, in triumph! and Mercutio slain!
Away to heaven, respective lenity,
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!
Now, Tybalt, take the villain back again,
That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio's soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company:
Either thou, or I, or both, must go with him.
TYBALT Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here,
Shalt with him hence.
ROMEO This shall determine that.
[They fight; TYBALT falls]
What makes this line so memorable for me is the fierce manner in which it presents a moment of decisiveness, unavoidability, and irrevocability. To borrow from two old clichés, this shall determine that represents an ultimate instance of gauntlet throwing and Rubicon crossing. A challenge has been issued and accepted and an irreversible step to a specific course of action has been taken.
In the pivotal scene Shakespeare pits two hot-headed, young, virile men against one another in a terminal showdown in Verona's dusty, sun-baked streets. The confrontation has three possible outcomes - either one or the other or both will die. A fourth outcome - both surviving the confrontation - is no longer on the table. This shall determine that reveals the naked moment when diplomacy fails and compromise recedes - that moment when making a final stand becomes the only way forward. All other feasible options have evaporated. One either fights and wins or dies trying.
I mention this line from Romeo and Juliet now because I believe we have arrived at a real this shall determine that juncture in history. Just as the fight between Romeo and Tybalt marks a turning point in Romeo and Juliet, I believe the events of the past three or four weeks have marked a turning point in the world.
The events to which I am referring cover the entire range of experience in this world. For the first time in a long time, it very much appears that everything within the scope of existence is being chiseled down to moments of decisiveness, unavoidability, and irrevocability. This shall determine that has become and will continue to become all encompassing. Everyone and everything will be forced into a veritable cascade of this shall determine that experiences - experiences in which diplomacy and compromise cease to be effective or viable options. Experiences in which confrontation will be the only choice. Experiences in which either one or the other or both must go.
The stage is already being overrun by teams of hotheaded Romeos and Tybalts all itching to seize the moment to propel their various agendas. The hotheaded understand the existential nature of what is transpiring at the moment, and they are rushing forward to ensure they fill any void the inevitable this shall determine that conflicts leave in their wake.
Within the framework of this shall determine that environment, the spiritual becomes glaringly predominant. Whatever happens in the material world is important, but the spiritual ramifications of these material events are even more so.
That is what I am focusing on personally. I am convinced that we have already faced and will continue to face many this shall determine that moments in the here and now - moments in which we will be forced to choose and act. Moments in which we must make decisive, unavoidable, and irrevocable decisions - decisions in which the outcome may very well be reduced to three options - either we or the challenge or both must go.
Unlike Romeo and Tybalt, we must not rush impetuously into these this shall determine that challenges when they confront us, for volatility and rashness will likely lead only to tragedy. And we must recognize that many of the challenges are beyond our scope of meaningful influence. We will be spectators rather than participants in many of the events that will surely transpire. Yet mere observation can teach us much provided we maintain the appropriate perspective and understand the underlying spiritual consequences of this determining that. But in other instances, we will be compelled onto the stage, forced to meet challenges head on - and we must remember to meet these challenges with faith, hope, and love.
How we respond to our own personal this shall determine that moments will resolve everything. If we respond correctly, the resolutions need not be tragic, even if we end up being the ones who go.