Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pep Talk: "Tikkun Olam"

Never before had gorging on a hot dog slathered in chili, cold slaw, cheddar cheese and onions, crunchy onion rings and a cold beer been so nutritious - for my soul.

That was the thought rumbling through this old jock’s noggin’ as I sat at Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs on Denver’s near east side and listened to a friend describe something he learned long ago.

Tikkun olam.

Attorney Ken Fellman was the buddy doing the educating. And to think, he bought lunch too! It was a Friday, late January, noontime in the Mile High City. It had also been a good week for Victory Productions in fulfilling its mission to encourage others to achieve goals and overcome challenges. Forgive me for starting the weekend celebration a tad early. I try to make that the exception rather than the rule, promise.

As we caught up on life, the former mayor of Arvada, Colorado, a northwest Denver suburb, was describing the foundation of his Jewish faith: Tikkun olam. A Hebrew phrase meaning, “heal the world.” Basically it states it’s our collective responsibility - you, me and everybody else - to heal, transform and repair the world.

That’s a big job.

A big job that starts with each and everyone of us and our little corner of the globe. We could make a conscious decision right now, in our sphere of influence, to focus on healing, transforming and repairing prickly issues - home, work and elsewhere, right?

The history of the phrase dates back to Isaac Luria, born, 1534, in Jerusalem. While still a child, the man credited with heavily influencing the Kaballah school of thought, lost his father and was raised by a rich uncle, a tax collector in Cairo, Egypt. At the tender age of 15, perhaps not so tender an age 500 years ago, the young man married a cousin. Because of his financial security, Luria didn’t work and continued studying under what were considered the best and brightest Jewish teachers, including rabbi scholars.

By the time he was 22, Luria had become a recluse. He retreated to the banks of the Nile, meditated constantly, rarely spoke and only visited with family on the Shabbat. There’s a few people in this world, my two kids and darling girlfriend among them, that probably wish your humble correspondent would adopt some of Luria’s behaviors - go away and leave us alone.

Healing the world ain’t an easy task. There’s a whole lot of bickering going on, always has been, about exactly how to accomplish what many would consider an impossible task. It seems from the daily news, perhaps, there’s many who want anything but peace and harmony to prevail.

The heck with those folks, let’s try anyway. Look around right now, where in our lives could we take steps toward healing fractures in relationships with family, friends and foes?

A recent Pep Talk spoke of the personal angst concerning a long-time friend and the sudden, and bewildering, collapse of a relationship this simple dude from Missouri thought would last a lifetime. I’d sure love a little tikkun olam to appear there. 

Each week on The Odd Couple  sports talk radio show we have a segment, “Excellent Moves” that showcases others performing good works. In my book, that’s healing the world. Kudos to the Denver Public Schools Transportation Department. Over the holidays, the transportation team came up with the cool idea to stuff a school bus full of winter apparel: coats, hats, gloves, socks and underwear to benefit the Denver Children’s Advocacy Center.

The non profit’s mission is to prevent abuse, strengthen families and restore childhoods. In short, healing and repairing.

DPS employees, from multiple departments, helped more than 100 district students and families stay warm through the winter months. Denver Public Schools Transportation Department, excellent move! Tikkun olam.

Each and every day there are tons of examples of healing and repair to exalt. Sadly, we don’t hear much about them since the media likes to dwell on the negative. We should focus more of the nightly news on examples of good works in our communities. Who knows, maybe the notoriety would have a residual effect and inspire others to act in similar fashion? I’m not saying ignore matters of public safety but really, some of the stories featured prominently leave me wondering, “Is that news?”

This week, wherever roaming, let’s make headlines with our devotion to tikkun olam. Never growing weary of doing good for others. Service above self. Practice random acts of kindness. Call it what you want. From any language, religion or region of the globe. The action required to accomplish this noble endeavor shares the same spirit. A spirit against which, there is no law: caring for others.

For when we care for others we can heal the world. Let’s do it this week, next week, forever!


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