A sunset – yes, a sunset! And no, it’s not a black and white photo. That’s just how it looked that particular night at Yellow Point on Vancouver Island – expansive, beautiful, and breath-taking. The beauty of the sunset with its stark sky, water and land reminded me of a phrase our Jewish brothers and sisters use: Tikkun Olam.
Tikkun Olam describes how humanity is called to respond to a world by participating in repairing the world and mending what is broken. More than that, Tikkun Olam incorporates a call to make the world better than it was before it was damaged.
As I stood at the water’s edge that night, watching the sun set, images of our broken world because of climate change, pollution, environmental damage, anger, shattered relationships, abusive leaders, injustice, and more, flashed before my eyes. I wondered about the hope that is in the concept of Tikkun Olam. I remembered how collective actions can bring about repairing the earth through restoration, through reconciliation, through small acts (of love, kindness, solidarity with other people, animals, plant life, oceans, skies and other places on earth), and through larger acts (of social justice and environmental awareness). And I remembered that every person’s life provides an opportunity for tikkun olam … and that each tikkun has the potential to bring about change.
I thought of people like Malala Yousafzai… Martin Luther King Jr … Rosa Parks … Jesus of Nazareth … Joan of Ark … Jonas Salk … Florence Nightingale … Isaac Newton … Eleanor Roosevelt … Beethoven … Rachel Carson … Wangari Maathi … and the question arose within me: “Where would the world be today without each of them?” They and others, made an impact on this world. Each of us can, too. No matter how intellectually gifted, spiritually inclined, physically able-bodied each of us is or is not, we can contribute to the common good and to the creation of a world where justice, integrity, caring, compassion and peace are present in some way each day.
It was just a sunset that night, but it had me thinking – thinking about Tikkun Olam and how I can be more responsive to such a call in my daily living.
How can Tikkun Olam enter your thoughts and action?
© June Maffin