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Posts Tagged ‘tikkun olam’

In Better News

I recently signed up for an email service called “In Better News” (formerly, I think, “Kittens and Kindness”). Every day it sends an email with three pieces of news concerning people doing good deeds in the world, at various levels: everything from Coca-Cola giving men permission to break into one of their warehouses and take bottled water to help hurricane victims to a six-year-old girl setting up a lemonade stand with the goal of eliminating lunch debt at her school. Then, after those, you get three links to things involving cute animals.

It’s basically these tikkun olam posts, delivered to your inbox every day. With bonus cute animals.

Share with us your better news, however great or small. Your efforts to repair the world, one brick at a time, building a wall whose purpose is not to exclude but to shelter others from the storm. Donations, volunteering, random acts of kindness, alterations in your life that make you a better neighbor and friend. Anything to lift the spirit.

If I blow out all the candles in a single breath

Many years on September 1st I make a “birthday egotism” post, tallying up my accomplishments in the past year.

But for the last nine months or so, the first of the month has been reserved for my tikkun olam posts (and DW versions, which are much livelier).

The latter means more to me right now. If you want to wish me a happy birthday, do it by looking for a way to repair the world. Some little corner of it that is local to you and within your reach, however long or short that reach may be. Help someone who needs help. Find an active way to be a good neighbor, a good friend. Donate money or goods or time. Have you been meaning to start recycling or carrying reusable bags into the store? Now’s a great time to start. Speak up against hatred and fear and greed.

And then, if you’re willing, leave a comment here about what you’ve done. Because sometimes it feels like nothing when you’re doing your little bit, but then you look at everyone else’s little bits and realize they add up to a pile, a hill, a mountain. One bit at a time, we can move the world.

The work continues

Another month, another tikkun olam post. Because while we can make the world a better place, there is always more to be done. Especially these days.

The usual guidelines apply. Share any good that you’ve done: volunteering, donations in money or supplies, changes toward a more sustainable lifestyle, random good deeds for neighbors or strangers. If you find yourself thinking “that isn’t big enough to count,” share it anyway. Every bit helps; every bit tells others that they’re not working alone.

A more perfect union

I decided to delay this month’s tikkun olam post until the 4th. It seemed appropriate.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A more perfect Union. That’s the goal this country was founded on — and though we may have often and egregiously foundered in pursuit of it, that doesn’t make the goal any less worthy. We must keep striving to establish Justice: to make it clear that Black Lives Matter, Native Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter. We must ensure domestic Tranquility: stop homegrown terrorism, partner violence, police brutality. Provide for the common defence: but not unending aggression. Promote the general Welfare: through programs like Medicaid, Social Security, and the ACA. Secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity: protect voting rights, protect the freedom of speech, religion, the press, and peaceable assembly.

If the people in charge won’t do it, then we have to do what we can, in our own lives and in our communities. So share what you’ve done lately, however small, to repair the world: to establish a more perfect Union, in the United States or elsewhere, through donations, volunteer work, good deeds, anything. Share what you intend to do in the days to come. The work is ongoing.

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.