Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tikkun Olam and Obama

blue on blue
Originally uploaded by JKonig
Tikkun (“tee kun”) comes from the mystical Hebrew idea of tikkun olam which describes humanity's shared responsibility, along with God, "to heal, repair and transform the world."

There is a magazine by this name, the voice the of the “Tikkun community” which is composed of people of many faiths.
Editor Rabbi Michael Lerner has an article in this month’s issue entitled, “The Obama Phenomenon.”

To entice you to read it in it’s entirety, I have excerpted a portion here:

…this editorial is not about Obama as much as about what he elicits in others, and should not be read as an endorsement of him.

The energy, hopefulness, and excitement that manifests in Obama’s campaign has shown up before in the last fifty years…

It was there in the 1960s and 1970s in the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women’s movement, the environmental movement, and the movement for gay liberation.

One felt it flowing at rallies and demonstrations at which Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, Betty Friedan, Isaac Deutscher, Joan Baez, and Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated their visions.

It was there again in Earth Day, in the anti-nuclear movement, and in the movement against the war with the Contras.

It was there during the campaign of Jesse Jackson in 1988 and the Clintons’ campaign in 1992. And it has been there—dare we say it—in the growth of the religious right and the Campus Crusade for Christ.

What is that energy and excitement, and why does it touch people so deeply?...

The phenomenon in question is this:

the intense desire of every human being on this planet to overcome and transcend
the materialism and selfishness that shape the global economic arrangements
and permeate the consciousness of all people,

to overcome the looking-out-for-number one consciousness that divides us…

and to overcome the alienation from each other that this way of being has created
so that we might once again recognize each other as embodiments of God or Spirit…

We Avert Our Eyes from One Another

Every gesture, every word, every deed …
every message we give ourselves
all combine to either reinforce our separation and estrangement from each other
or to reconnect us in a deep way that allows genuine mutual recognition,
the seeing and hearing of who we really are,
the contact we have with the sacred in ourselves, in each other, and in the world.

Recently, some columnists have compared Obama to a rock star because his supporters seem to treat him more like that than like a politician.
They are only partially mistaken.

What the best and most fulfilling rock concerts of the past several decades have offered one generation is what other multi-generational mega-churches or Super Bowls and World Series’ offer to others:

a chance to momentarily experience a transcendence of all those feelings of loneliness and alienation…

The Effectiveness of Not Demonizing

Obama’s appeal starts from his insistence on not demonizing the Other…

Obama knows that most people want a very different world,
but don’t believe it is possible unless someone else makes it happen.

He challenges his audience by telling them that there is no one else,
that they themselves are the people who must make the world different.

To quote Obama from his Super Tuesday speech:

So many of us have been waiting so long for the time when we could finally expect more from our politics, when we could give more of ourselves and feel truly invested in something bigger than a particular candidate or cause.
This is it.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
We are the change that we seek.

This is About Us, Not About Obama

…no matter how spiritually and emotionally dead the majority of people on the planet may appear to be,
no matter how lost in their pursuit of money and fame and sexual conquest and me-first-ism and don’t-bother-me-ism,

the truth is that the resurrection of the dead is always at hand, always a possibility.
Human beings can always be awakened again to choose life,
to choose love,
to choose kindness, generosity, ecological sensitivity, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.

That capacity of human beings is what it means to have a soul…

I hope you take the time to read more of this essay. (I left out some interesting details.)

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