Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Linda Downing

Soul mates and other myths

Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 05:17 PM

Ah, the symbols: Cupid, hearts, flowers — chocolate! Ah, the longing to be "one," to be fulfilled — to be soul mates! How illusive in the harsh light of daily news.

Let's take the Feb. 1 Tribune's update on the unveiling of the state's new business logo. Smack dab in the "Florida," a man's necktie substitutes for the letter "I." Gov. Rick Scott and Enterprise Florida, the chief economic development agency, are clueless as to why women may take offense at this.

Public relations executive Beth Leytham commented: "Florida is the perfect climate for business if you're a man." And we could add, "Thus goes the world, Ms. Leytham."

In Iceland a young woman recently went to court to use the name her mother gave her. The reason? Iceland's authorities deemed "Blaer," meaning "a light breeze," not a proper feminine name. Until she won the case, officials would only call her "Girl."

Saudi Arabia's king just granted women seats on the top advisory council. What voice will they have? The fact that airport authorities send text messages to husbands, fathers and brothers to update them on the movements of wives, daughters and sisters answers that question.

Papua New Guinea claims allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, yet women are targeted for sorcery and burned as witches. Last week, Kepari Leniata, age 20, was stripped, tortured, bound, doused with gasoline and burned before hundreds of bystanders.

Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan's longtime editor, died last August. She helped the cause of women, but her methods stunk. Her goal was to tell women "how to get everything out of life" by catering to men's lust and tricking them with feminine wiles.

In the movie "A Beautiful Mind," the schizophrenic lead character likes to say: "I'm terrified, mortified, petrified, stupefied by you." In context it was a sharp-edged compliment. Maybe it is one of the best descriptions of what we currently mean by the term "soul mate."

A French writer known simply as "Colette" summed up all passionate love affairs, saying the rest was mere verbiage: "He loved me; I loved Him. His presence obliterated all other presences. We were happy. Then he stopped loving me and I suffered."

We all fancy ourselves unique — our personal stories different. Colette's words jar that view, especially because we feel their truth. Romantic relationships involve strong, even extreme, feelings that can chase away intellectual and spiritual discernment.

Our soul mate-thinking may have originated from Plato's "The Symposium." In it, the playwright Aristophanes shares his complex tale of human creation. According to him, humans were split in half — bodies and souls — as punishment for their sinful pride. They were so miserable the gods took pity, sometimes allowing them to find their lost halves — their soul mates.

Lost halves are only recovered when both pieces acknowledge God as The Soul Mate: "…in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them" (Genesis 1:27) — equal and with the same job description to rule the earth (v. 28). Cal Thomas recently pointed out the double standard for female senators: "In the end, it isn't about gender or race, but ideology."

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together — side-by-side. Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.

Part of the Tribune family of products