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.