August 15, 2009
"Tikkun olam" is a Hebrew phrase that means, "repairing the world" or "perfecting the world."
Bits of an excerpt from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn:
Norah: "Basically [Tikkun olam] says that the world has been broken into pieces. All this chaos, all this discord. And our job-everyone's job-is to try to put the pieces back together. To make things whole again. Just look around us. Every minute-every single second-there are a million things you could be thinking about. A million things you could be worrying about. Our world-don't you just feel we are becoming more and more fragmented?
"I used to think that when I got older, the world would make so much more sense. But you know what? The older I get, the more confusing it is to me. The more complicated it is. You'd think we'd be getting better at it. But there's just more and more chaos. The pieces-they're everywhere. And nobody knows what to do about it."
Nick: "Maybe it isn't that we're supposed to find the pieces and put them back together. Maybe we're the pieces."
Isn't that a great piece of reassurance to think on? The world is falling apart because we are all broken, unable to fix ourselves or the world or each other.
Next time you look at someone with a critical eye or see the devastation on the 11 o'clock news, throw a glass against cement and watch it shatter into irreversibly broken pieces. Like High School Musical encourages, "We're all in this together."
So what do we do? Sulk in our inevitable doom? Sit back and relax because there is nothing we can do to fix the world? No. Giving up is not just shrugging your shoulders. Giving up means leaving the shattered glass on the cement and not even trying to pick it up. What the world needs now [is love, sweet love] and a swarm of people who haven't lost hope even when, in reality, the situation is hopeless. If you fail, at least you can say you picked up a single piece of glass and tried with all you had to glue it to another. You made it that one step closer to becoming whole again.