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Making the world a better place?

Okay, it’s been some time since I last wrote in here.. Shame on me:o).. I’ll spare you all the bad excuses though, and just get on with it..

Anyway, as the title indicates, this is basically going to be a post about the world and making it a better place.. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the one making the world better, at least not alone.. And I don’t have the great masterplan on how we’re going to do it.. Only some thoughts on the issue, garnished with various Jewish terms, so to make it look like Jewish thoughts;o)..

Now, we can probably all agree that the world isn’t perfect (people nodding and whispering affirmative to one another).. And we can probably all also agree that there has to be done something to make it a better place (more people nodding).. Well, in Judaism we have this term that I really do love: Tikkun ‘Olam, restoring the world.. It is believed that the world once was a perfect place.. Or, to use the more correct term, it was in harmony (b’shalom).. And doing Tikkun ‘Olam, is to lead it back to that condition..

So how do you do Tikkun ‘Olam? Well, there are various thoughts on this, but the traditional Jewish thought, is to do Mitzvot – whether you’re a Ben Yisrael or a Ben Noah (those described as non-Jews), simply do Mitzvot.. Now, just to make things clear, I don’t mean that Bney Noah should do the Taryag haMitzvot (the 613 Mitzvot expounded from Torah), I’m more thinking about the seven Mitzvot of Noah here.. More about that later..

Actually, what my focus is here, isn’t so much the aforementioned Mitzvot, though I certainly do view them as VERY important, don’t get me wrong here.. I’m just more thinking about what you can do to make your world a better place.. Don’t go out and save the world, that probably wouldn’t end well anyway.. Begin with yourself.. You, as an individual, can be the first step to a better world.. How? Well, think about it – if I may put it a bit simple.. Let’s think about a poor guy, poor in the “I’ve totally out of money”-sense.. This guy needs 1,000 $ to pay his bills or he’ll loose his apartment.. So this guy, let’s call him Anthony – just for the sake of it, needs some money, and he doesn’t have the means to get them.. So he begins to beg.. One guy throw him a dollar, which isn’t quite enough, but yet another guy throws a dollar, and a third, and suddenly Anthony is getting close to the 1,000 $ he needs.. For each and everyone of the persons giving Anthony a dollar, it’ll be a small thing, but all in all, for Anthony it will make all the difference..

Okay, this is a rather cute comparison, but it has its flaws.. For example, Tikkun ‘Olam isn’t about reaching a certain goal, but just to improve things.. And trying to make the world a better place, can sometimes feel like throwing a drop of water in the ocean, nobody notices it anyway.. Or what? At least one person notices it, when you try to make a difference; you..

One of the first thing I learned from the Chief Rabbi here in Denmark, is an understanding of sin and the person committing the sin.. When you do something wrong, let’s say you steal, then you’ve done something wrong.. You feel bad about it, but know with yourself that you won’t do it again.. But let’s say that you do it again.. You understand, that this isn’t the first time, and that something is wrong with you.. You tell yourself, that no matter what, you won’t do it again, you’ve already lost some self-esteem.. But circumstances make you do it again.. How will that affect you? How will you think of yourself? At this point you might think to yourself, that you’re just not a guys, who has been stealing a couple of times.. You’re actually a thief.. Now your action has become part of you, part of how you define yourself.. You steal a fourth time, fifth time and so on, but now it’s not something that you do wrong, it’s something you do..

Okay, that’s a pretty negative way to try to reach a positive conclusion, I know.. But it also goes the other way around; you become what you do.. The first couple of time you do something good for others, you’re “just” a guy (or girl) who does something good once in a while, but suddenly, when this becomes a part of you, you’re changing.. You become a better person..

Let me use another example.. You think that it’s annoying that so few people smile, when you pass them on the study.. So, you decide to take matters into own hands, and begin to smile to them, when you pass them.. Always making sure to have eye contact and smile.. The first couple of times, you’re a person smiling to people, but suddenly you’re the smiling person.. It becomes part of your identity..

What I’m trying to say is, if you want the world to become a better place, then begin with yourself.. It really doesn’t take much, and even if nobody else notice that you do something good, you yourself do.. And, by all means, you are the most important person, aren’t you? And even if it’s just a drop in the ocean, at least that’s a drop more in the ocean..

So, make the world a better place, become a better person;o)

Have a wonderful day..


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