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Posts Tagged ‘tikkun olam’

that whole “tikkun olam” thing

I’ve been making these tikkun olam posts for about half a year now, and responses to them have been slowing down, which I suspect is in part a sign of fatigue. It’s hard to keep on working to repair the world when so many people seem determined to break it, and when it’s hard to see any result for your effort.

But sometimes you can make a very real difference to a very specific person. Chaz Brenchley has put out a call raising funds to treat his wife’s multiple sclerosis. If we lived in a country where this was covered by insurance, they wouldn’t have to worry; instead we live in a country where Republicans are trying to take away even the insurance we already have. Karen is the primary earner in their family, and she doesn’t know how soon she’ll be able to return to work. Helping out, either by donating directly, or by subscribing to Chaz’s Patreon, can make all the difference in the world to these two people, and to their friends and family.

And while you’re at it, call your senators and beg them to oppose Trumpcare. Because I’d like to live in a world where things ranging from anxiety to surviving sexual assault don’t count as “pre-existing conditions,” and where health insurance companies are required to cover things like doctor’s visits.

In it for the long haul

One of the hardest things about our current political situation is that it isn’t going to be over any time soon. Getting involved for a day? That’s easy. Staying engaged for a month? That’s manageable. But keeping it up for years . . . that’s hard. It’s like the whole concept of dieting: the best thing to do is not to restrict your eating habits for a limited time, but to change them indefinitely, in a way you can sustain long past the point when that initial surge of energy has burned out.

Tikkun olam doesn’t work very well as a binge. It’s a way of thinking, a way of living. So another month, another repetition of the question: how have you been thinking and living? What things have you done to repair the world, in your own life or someone else’s? Donations, volunteer work, efforts to build a better future or to mitigate harm you see coming. Any good is good, no matter how small.

Remember the three tenets

I have a back-burner project about a group of people involved in a really big movement. The project needs a lot more development, but I know their three tenets:

  1. You can’t do it all by yourself. We have to do it together.
  2. You can’t do it all at once. We have to do it bit by bit.
  3. Just because something is small, doesn’t make it not worth doing.

Welcome to this month’s tikkun olam open thread. Share with us all the things you’ve done to repair the world. If you’ve helped out with a cause or an individual person, if you’ve donated money or goods, if you’ve improved your own life in a way that will rebound on others, or if you’re planning on doing those things in the upcoming weeks, please tell us about it.

And remember tenet #3 above. Even small deeds are worth doing, and worth sharing.

Answering the urgent question

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Another month begins; another tikkun olam post.

It may sound odd, but the above quote makes me think of something two friends of mine once said at the beginning of a LARP they were running. They pointed out that if you come into a game with your main goal being to have fun, then there’s one person working to make sure you enjoy yourself. But if everybody comes into game with their main goal being to help other players have fun, then you have a whole bunch of people workign to make sure you enjoy yourself. So it is with the world: if you only try to help yourself, that’s one person. If we all try to help each other . . . yeah.

Share that help with the world. Volunteer work, donations in money or kind, acts of kindness, anything you’ve done to repair the world. No act too small. Repeated and ongoing acts welcome. Any good is good.

Drawing a circle

During the event I went to at a local mosque a few months ago, one of the visiting religious leaders recited a poem that, upon googling, I find attributed to Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle to shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win
We made a circle that drew him in.

It’s a sentiment to keep in mind these days: solidarity, inclusiveness, answering condemnation with love.

This is our monthly tikkun olam post, a place to share your efforts to repair the world and take heart from the efforts of others. The usual principles apply: nothing is too small to share. Ongoing things are good, too; don’t feel like everything you say here has to be some new undertaking. If you’ve made donations of money or supplies, volunteered your time somewhere, helped out a neighbor, changed your life to be better for those around you, or otherwise done something to make the world a better place and counteract the forces pushing it in the other direction, share it here. It reminds you of the good you’ve done, gives you a chance to see the good of others, and may inspire you to new efforts you hadn’t thought of before.

Listen to Fred Rogers’ Mother

Fred Rogers, the uncanonized saint of American television, said it best: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

(via Making Light)

That is, in essence, what these tikkun olam posts are for: they’re a place to find helpers, to remind yourself that they’re out there, and even to motivate yourself to be one of them. So that when you’re like ickle Fred Rogers, the world might seem a little less scary.

So share your news of how you’re helping, be it big or small. Are you doing volunteer work, either through a formal organization or an ad hoc arrangement with someone you know? Are you changing your own life so that you’ll be a better citizen of your town, state, country, planet? Have you made a donation to some good cause? Don’t feel like everything you mention has to be new; continuing efforts are just as good as one-off or additional things. And remember that everything is fair game, even if it’s not very big. Sometimes the little gestures mean the most.

And so 2017 begins

It is the first of the month, and the first of the year. 2017 seems likely to be difficult, so let’s talk about tikkun olam.

The comment thread is open for your news of repairing the world. Have you made a donation lately? Have you given your time and effort to help out somewhere? Have you found a way to be a better citizen of the world? If so, please tell us about it. And if you have plans to do something along those lines in the coming weeks, tell us about that, too. Even if it’s a little thing. Even if it’s tiny. This is a time to share good things; good does not stop being good because it is small.

Kicking at the darkness until it bleeds light

The title of this month’s tikkun olam post comes from something Marissa Lingen once said years ago, about the symbolism of the darkest time of the year (and the making of difficult but lovely cookies in that season). Seems apropos.

As promised, I’m posting an open thread on the first day of each month where people can talk about the things they’re doing to repair the world. Any good deed you have done recently, any charitable donation or volunteering of your time, any change you’ve made in your life so that you will be a better citizen of your society, please share it here. Anything you are intending to do in the coming months, tell us about it.

Nothing is too small. Don’t hold back on mentioning something because you’re embarrassed to mention something so trivial. We need every bit of light.

Brick by brick

More knowledgeable readers please correct me if I’m using this wrong, but I think the Jewish concept of tikkun olam may be the most succinct way of describing what I’m thinking about these days.

When I try to think about the situation of the world at large, I despair, because opportunities to make a large-scale difference don’t come along very often. We just had one; it went the wrong way. Many people have been saying we therefore need to look for other ways to improve the world, or at least to hold it together against the forces trying to crack it. Tikkun olam: repair of the world. Good deeds, acts of kindness, all the little ways we can each do our part, and maybe no single one of those things is that epic, but just because a good is small doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.

For the foreseeable future, my intent is to make an open thread on the first of the month, inviting people to talk about the things they’ve done to repair the world and the things they intend to do. Anything good is worth mentioning: most of us can’t give a thousand dollars to an important charity every month (or even once), but helping your elderly neighbor with a strenuous bit of yardwork is more within reach. Donations, volunteering, even changes in your own life that aren’t so much about reaching out as about making yourself a better citizen of the world. I think it might be a comfort to read about the good things other people are doing, and maybe even an inspiration — “oh, huh, I never thought about doing X myself, but that’s a great idea” — plus, for myself at least, it’ll be a reminder to not just wish the world were in a better state, but to get off my duff and do something about it.

So consider this the first of those posts. My husband and I made two donations the other day, to the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council (we’re already members of the ACLU). I bought a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, not just as a public statement, and not just as a reminder to myself, but because the place I bought it from makes donations to some good charities. We also just had solar panels installed on our roof, doing our own itty-bitty part to move society toward renewable energy. In the upcoming weeks I’m intending to supply something to a local food drive and to ask around about volunteering for some kind of literacy or English proficiency program. Please use the comments on any iteration of this post to share your own efforts and to talk about what you might do going forward. Remember: nothing is too small. Anything you did to improve the world around you, I would be delighted to hear it.

Right now, we need those points of light in the darkness.