Tikkun Olam – Let’s Heal Our World
Photo Credit: John Bramley (PS. I came up with the concept, so concept credit is part me)
Finally…I’m tired and overwhelmed, but I’m forcing myself to write this post because it’s one of the most important posts I will ever write on this blog. So here we go: TIKKUN OLAM
Tikkun Olam is one of the pinnacle concepts in Judaism or rather one of the basic foundations of Jewish ethical practice which encourages acts of righteousness (slash the fulfillment of mitzvot). Our job on this earth is to do good. That should be obvious on a basic humanitarian level, but it’s not because the world has a lot of unresolved issues, injustices and inequalities.
Generally speaking, my idealism ended in my twenties or maybe it was in my early thirties when I concluded the world was f’d, controlled by certain groups and since it was not worth dying a martyr I’d just ignore injustice and dodge my own bullets till I reached the finish line. And that was the opinion I adopted after working as a journalist and failing to break certain stories because politics reigns and not everyone wants to listen.
I credit studying Judaism for encouraging me to care again and regain faith that the majority of people are good and not solely fueled by greed and power. Judaism comes with a call to action. As a Jew you’re called to care about social justice and the earth. Your duty is to make the earth a better place. To live in the present and do your best in the moments you are given in this life.
I don’t necessarily know how to change or fix the world and it’s definitely not a task to be undertaken on one’s own. I believe it takes everyone to make a difference, but at the very least I can raise awareness and choose to have a voice as opposed to remaining meek and quiet.
So here are 5 major issues that concern me in the world today:
1. INCOME INEQUALITY: There is a widening economic gap in the US as the middle class continues to shrink. It’s the middle class that keeps the economy going (consumer spending accounts for 70% of the economy). Gist: Wages are declining, prices are rising, debt is out of control. Here’s a shitty statistic from the documentary, “Inequality for All” by Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich, “400 of the richest Americans have more money than 150 million Americans put together.” That means 400 people in the US have more money than half the population.
The US actually ranks 64th in income inequality right behind Uruguay, Jamaica and Uganda. Wow! Way to go Super Power!
Not to mention minimum wage in the US is below the poverty line. Extracted from YWCA (YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all).
“The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour or $15,080 a year for someone who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. This is $7,970 below the poverty line for a family of four, or $4,010 below the poverty line for a family of three. The minimum wage is far from a livable wage and does not provide economic security for hardworking women and men.”
2. RISING COST OF EDUCATION: Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in the US. I suggest this Forbes article for further insight into this massive problem: How the $1.2 trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents and the Economy
3. GENDER INEQUALITY: The latest statistic I read claimed that women in 99 % of all occupations on average are paid 77 cents to ever dollar men earn. I can attest to this; I have been underpaid in almost every job I have ever had in the US. Plus my former naivety made me super easy to dupe. To make matters worse, in Hollywood, where I’m oh so lucky to be living – 83% of writers, directors and producers are men. Oh good luck to me! If you just follow me to this casting couch, I assure you I will read your script! Yippee!
Here’s a worthwhile article about Women in Film with Linda Obst: Hollywood has learned nothing from success of “Bridesmaids.”
4. GLOBAL WARMING: We could curb global warming with solar power, but well…$$$$$$$$
Two very relevant articles I suggest reading further on this topic:
And here’s a storyboard pic from a screenplay I wrote with former still photographer John Bramley, A Green Christmas, showing what will happen to Christmas if we don’t do anything to curtail global warming.
5. MISUSE & OVER-RELIANCE ON TECHNOLOGY: Let’s see, we rely on technology to an excessive degree which diminishes our personal interactions and hardens our emotions. Not to mention job loss because we’re all gradually getting replaced by machines. I don’t know. Quite often I just wish I grew up in Berlin in the 30s…as a lesbian Burlesque dancer. Life sounds simpler back then.
So there’s my overview, but there are so many sub-categories under each point I’ve listed and so many other areas that need our attention in this world, not just limited to the US. Bottom line: Let’s make an effort to care! Tikkun Olam!
Please watch Rabbi Sacks on Tikkun Olam (mainly because he’s much more knowledgeable than I am)
For a more in depth POV from a Kabbalist, please watch here: What is Tikkun Olam