Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Line of Good & Evil, Internet Domain

Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik has noted that the two accounts of creation in the book of Genesis represents the two opposing sides of our nature, which he labeled Adam I and Adam II. In the introduction to his book on character, David Brooks writes about the resume virtues of Adam I and the eulogy virtues of Adam II. In our initial struggle to survive in a very competitive material world we need our tool kit loaded with career-oriented and ambitious virtues that enable us to achieve success. We strive for victories and status as we build, create, produce, and discover. We list these attributes on our resumes and use these external achievements to support ourselves and our families. Our culture celebrates the Adam I side of our nature. The internal Adam II embodies aspects of our moral character. It’s these virtues that reveal themselves in our ability to love and connect with others. These are generally the attributes of living a moral life of faith in a greater authority and respecting our fellow journeymen which are extolled in the eulogies at our passing. This is the language of our life that people observe and choose to follow, as we have observed others that have gone before us.

As we age, we realize the importance of achieving a better balance in striving for more of a life of significance. Balance in life is good. We seek a life that acquires more meaning than money, status, or applause. We are interested in serving a higher purpose rather than our own selfish desires. As we pass through the storms of life we begin to understand that every experience of both joy and pain is never lost on those that have learned to profit from the experience. Brooks writes that “these are the people who have built a strong inner character, who have achieved a certain depth. In these people, at the end of this struggle, the climb to success has surrendered to the struggle to deepen the soul.”

Brooks concludes that people of character have generally solved life’s essential problem by using one of my favorite quotes from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.”

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