Deep within every man, there lies the dread of being alone in the world, forgotten by God, overlooked among the household of millions upon millions.
~Soren Kierkegaard, author of Works of Love
Within each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks, author of The Social Animal in this meditative short talk: the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love — the values that make for a great eulogy. Can we balance these two selves?
The résumé virtues vs the eulogy virtues
So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues.
The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistency?
And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.
Joseph Soloveitchik, and The Lonely Man of Faith
Soloveitchik said there are two sides of our natures,which he called Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is the worldly, ambitious, external side of our nature. He wants to build, create, create companies, create innovation. Adam II is the humble side of our nature. Adam II wants not only to do good but to be good, to live in a way internally that honors God, creation and our possibilities. Adam I wants to conquer the world. Adam II wants to hear a calling and obey the world. Adam I savors accomplishment. Adam II savors inner consistency and strength. Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why we’re here. Adam I’s motto is “success.” Adam II’s motto is “love, redemption and return.
These two sides of our nature are at war with each other
We live in perpetual self-confrontation between the external success and the internal value. And the tricky thing, I’d say, about these two sides of our nature is they work by different logics. The external logic is an economic logic: input leads to output, risk leads to reward. The internal side of our nature is a moral logic and often an inverse logic. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain strength within yourself. You have to conquer the desire to get what you want. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.
We happen to live in a society that favors Adam I, and often neglects Adam II. And the problem is, that turns you into a shrewd animal who treats life as a game, and you become a cold, calculating creature who slips into a sort of mediocrity where you realize there’s a difference between your desired self and your actual self.
Reinhold Niebuhr summed up the confrontation, the fully lived Adam I and Adam II life
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makescomplete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.