May 18, 2015 admin

PURPOSE: “TIKKUN OLAM”

by Kevin Abel

Age 50. Atlanta, GA

 

 

In the Jewish tradition there is an expression “Tikkun Olam” which translates as “repair the world”. If ever there was a truth I could hold on to as my life’s guiding principle it would be this.

Life’s complicated and gets in the way of even the most committed person’s path of a purposeful existence. Tikkun Olam is an easy expression to remember and an idea to come back to. This said, it is not itself the answer. A thoughtful person must interpret this expression and find their own meaning in its words. For me Tikkun Olam means that as a citizen of this world, it is my responsibility to do what I can as much as I can to make this world a better place, to be a net positive, to make a dent because this is how change happens. It can be overwhelming when we read the news or watch TV seeing how really ugly our world is and has been.

There are things we can control completely, things we can assert control over, and things completely beyond our control (i.e., forces of nature). Those things we can control completely are our own human nature. Human nature is the root cause of most of what is wrong and bad in this world. By being a good, moral, ethical human being, and by raising three children to hopefully follow my and my wife’s example, we are making a small dent; we are adding a net positive to humanity’s rise up the scale of goodness. But we have to do more than just be good. We have to also effect change where change can be impacted. We have to advocate for good behavior in others (our politicians, our business and civic leaders, and our peers). We can do this by example and not by assertion. If we begin to preach, we fall victim to self righteousness and become like those whose behavior we’ve been wanting to change.

We can do this by example and not by assertion. If we begin to preach, we fall victim to self righteousness and become like those whose behavior we’ve been wanting to change.

So it comes back full circle to the simple idea of repairing the world. Life is complicated, yes, but one can do one’s part to repair the world in small, quantifiable ways. And by knowing that we are all small but significant actors on a global stage, we can be reconciled that our examples of goodness will be a meaningful, purposeful gestures, satisfying a basic human need toward goodness and feeding an insatiable hunger to do more.

 

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