Sunday, November 12, 2006

Double Talk

As the political stage in the United States is heating up, with the demagogic Democrats and the reprehended Republicans, not to mention the indifferent Independents, at each other’s throats like a starched priest's collar, there is a lot of doubletalk going on.

If not for their forked tongue, politicians would have no tongue at all. Such is the life of the public servant: the right hand signs the bill while the left tears it in half. Of course one must be polished in his method, and when walking on anything polished the chance of slipping is immense. Yet, it is precisely at these precarious times, when the spotlight’s glare highlights every botox induced smile, that the master statesman is separated from the amateur filibusterer – the master turns his slip into a waltz, while the amateur falls flat on the seat of his rented tuxedo.

Though the political stage has turned the doubletalk into an art form, it is nevertheless played on stages all along the gamut: at the blackjack table a card player will say, “I double-down;” at the bar a lone drinker will mutter, “Make it a double;” in the stadium an impish umpire will signal a “ground-rule double;” at work a boisterous boss will shout, “On the double;” and in kindergarten an exasperated teacher, when eyeing the twin red-heads sitting in the last row, will sigh, “Uh oh, here comes double-trouble.”

Doubletalk, the cruder version of doublespeak, stems from a double standard: if one would have standards set in concrete, steadfast and true, then talk too would be the same, consistent and unwavering. However, we live in a world of fragmentation, where today’s Yes is tomorrow’s No and therefore, to justify our flexible integrity, we walk the doublewalk and talk the doubletalk.

It is not only the glib politicians and groomed aristocrats preaching what the choir wants to hear; all of humanity does it to some extent. We are born with two souls, two totally opposite perspectives, and therefore live double lives – one of the spiritual and one of the physical. The challenge is for us to combine the opposites by tapping in to a place beyond fragmentation, a place neither physical nor spiritual, a place just true.

Before the soul descended into this world, the soul was in perfect bliss: she did not have to deal with the pettiness of the body, did not have a challenge she could not overcome – in fact, she did not have any challenges at all – and was content to bask in the glow of infinite radiance. There was only one talk she knew and only one talk she spoke. But, still, there was one thing the soul was lacking – she could not reach beyond her own self. Not that she cared or anything – she was content – yet, the soul was imprisoned by her own perfection.

So, enter imperfection – the universe. The delicate soul, a stranger in a strange land, roams the imperfect universe, looking for something familiar, something true to hold on to. She finds nothing: the world is doubled-over and its people are two-faced. She doesn’t understand why she had to leave the comfort of heaven for the discomfort of earth.

But then she learns of places and people that transcend the dual-reality of doubletalk. She learns of the men and women, her ancestors, that lived “double” lives – on the one hand they were of flesh and blood; on the other, their flesh and blood spoke of spirituality and a higher purpose. She learns of the place where they rest and watch over their children: the Double Cave in Hebron, the gate to the Garden of Eden where heaven and earth meet, where physicality and spirituality, the “double” barrel needed for life, are not two separate entities, but, rather, one and the same – and she realizes that her descent from the predictability of heaven was so that she too, along with her body, would reach this level of transcendence.

So here we are, going through life, trying to fuse matter and spirit. It is this week that Sarah, our grandmother, becomes alive, alive through her grandchildren making everything around them alive.

All this talk may be very doublesome, with the reader doing a double take and the writer scratching his double chin. All the same, I think there is a bit of truth in these lines and, if I’m not overly ambitious, they may even double as entertaining.


A piece I wrote a year ago in Chevron: The Life of a Princess


Anonymous amartya sen said...

Why are you writing with the female pronoun? I get it that you refer to Sarah, but still till then.. Are u a feminist?

11/13/2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

because in hebrew the word for soul, neshama, is feminine.

11/13/2006 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say that was entertaining and inspiring. I'd take a double dose.

11/14/2006 8:04 AM  
Blogger Chaya said...

Great article, the post script had me laughing

11/14/2006 11:13 PM  
Anonymous m said...

Nice piece mendel,i just can't understand the comparison between the double talk of politicians and of the soul?

11/18/2006 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont take it personally. he is a feminist.

11/19/2006 11:20 PM  

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