“While Adam I wants to conquer the world, Adam II wants to obey a calling to serve the world. While Adam I is creative and savors his own accomplishments, Adam II sometimes renounces worldly success and status for the sake of some sacred purpose. While Adam I asks how things work, Adam II asks why things exist, and what ultimately we are here for. While Adam I wants to venture forth, Adam II wants to return to his roots and savor the warmth of a family meal. While Adam I’s motto is “success”, Adam II experiences life as a moral drama. His motto is “Charity, love, and redemption.”
In this passage, David Brooks, from his excellent book The Road to Character, interprets Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik who argued that in the creation two Adams were formed, the Adam of outer life and the Adam of the inner world; the secret Adam.
In our contemporary crisis, we experience the noise of the political world where people shout at us to gain our attention and to support their cause, the noise of the market-place sellers who gather to offer their wares, and the ultimate expression of that market-place online where the stuff of people’s intimate lives is cut-up to offer clickbait to our curiosity and our troubling desire to stare deeply into the fame and the pain of others.
To extend the work of the esteemed Rabbi Joseph, whom I know nothing of except his second Adam idea, that our contemporary crisis requires the creation of a second Adam, the creation of a second Eve in our fabled past, seems a quiet truth as important as ever.
It seems to me the second Eve is a secret Eve, the realization of one’s secret life: that one’s most desperate hopes, and the flickering tongue of the mind reaching into the cavities of prior failings, matter to the development of that most crucial thing: our character. To own one’s secret Eve is to free that secret life from shame and to offer it the liberation of its shared humanity. It is in that liberation that the truly intimate business of loving this world comes into being. A love that grows in one’s most private of lives. Free from the clamor and noise of the marketplace and the political rally. It is this most private of loves that has the power to change the world through one radically intimate act at a time.