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Posts Tagged ‘tikkun olam’

Year Two

We made it through 2017. Now begins 2018.

Things have been harder for me lately. This is the point at which it really starts to hit home that this isn’t a short-term challenge; it goes on and on and on. Taking tikkun olam in its proper sense, repairing the world is a task that goes on more or less forever, because there are always ways to make things better. But the amount of repair it needs right now is huge, and many of our victories amount to maintaining the status quo, rather than letting it get worse.

But 2018 does offer a chance to turn things in at least a little bit of a new direction, via the midterm elections in the U.S. If I have one resolution this year, it is to make sure the Republican Party reaps what it has sowed. They’ve been given their head, and they’ve used it to screw the American middle class, benefit the wealthy, strip protections from the environment, lash out at Latinos and Muslims and women, hand the Internet over to corporations, try repeatedly to gut health insurance, and generally piss on everything I care about. They’ve made it clear that they don’t really give two shits about democracy or the will of the people.

So it’s time for us to speak all the louder.

If you are not registered to vote, then register. If you are registered, make sure that’s still valid. And then vote. Same goes for anyobody living in another country, because your politics matter, too. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you that you don’t matter. You do.

You can change the world. One bit at a time.

The election is in November, but the work begins now. Share here anything you’ve done to repair the world: donations, volunteer work, good deeds, changes in your own life to be a better citizen and friend and neighbor. No effort is too small to be worth mentioning. We’ll need every straw if we’re going to break this camel’s back.

Light in the darkness

I’m a solar-powered creature and don’t much like the darkness of winter, but I love the symbolism of this season: the rekindling of light in the darkness. It is, in a sense, our yearly miracle, and the fact that it’s caused by the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun doesn’t make it any less magical to me.

We are now one year into my monthly series of tikkun olam posts. (Linked to the DW mirror because that’s where the most responses have been happening.) The darkness, as always, seems like it will go on forever. But if we’re to turn the corner and head back toward a brighter world, it won’t happen automatically; it takes effort, and the more of us who try, the faster it will go.

Tikkun olam: repairing the world. Volunteering, donating, performing acts of kindness. Whatever you have done in the last month to make the world a better place, whatever you have planned for upcoming days, share it here. You don’t have to apologize for not doing more or deprecate what you’ve done. Sometimes we’ve got more in us; sometimes we’ve got less. But anything is greater than nothing, and so anything, however small, is worth counting.

Voting can change the world

My apologies to those of you who read this blog on Dreamwidth; I didn’t realize for some time that the plugin which crossposts from my site to DW had broken, so last month’s tikkun olam post didn’t appear there. But I haven’t given up on these: far from it, in fact.

Every month I invite you all to share news of what you’ve been doing to repair the world, to help other people and make yourself a better part of it. That’s true this month, too, but to the usual call I’ll add a specific recommendation:

Vote.

If you live in the United States and you’re registered to vote, please do so. Don’t dismiss it as an “off year,” as if the presidential election is the only one that matters. There are local offices to fill, local measures to approve or reject. Maybe you live in a state that always goes blue or red, so you feel like your vote doesn’t matter — well, the more local you get, the more effect you can have. Take just a few minutes to research what’s going on in your state, your city, your school district. Download the EveryElection app. Make your voice heard. The presidency is important, but it’s the keystone of an arch built from many different stones, and right now we can go to work on the foundations.

Of course, also keep working at the things that aren’t overtly political. Volunteer your time, donate money or goods, be there for a friend in need. No effort too small to be worth mentioning here. Share what you’ve been doing and what you hope to do, so we can all take heart from one another.

And if you can: vote.

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.