One thing I’ve learned over the years, is that the complexity in large organizations can become a huge obstacle to doing compelling work, OR the people who inhabit these organizations can provide structure and show up in a way that helps move things forward. Rob Bell says that is a great litmus test for whether the work you’re doing is work that the world needs: does it move things forward?
Because some work doesn’t. Some work takes things in the wrong direction. Every day, we have choices- small, incremental ones- rarely the big life-changing ones. It becomes easy to think that choices define us, like “You are what you eat” “You are what you do” but that’s not true. You are the person who makes those choices.
How we decide, how we respond to what happens to us, is what gets at who we are as a person, and as an organization. I had the good fortune of growing up in several countries and cultures before landing in the Midwest. One of those countries was Israel. While there I learned about Tikkun Olam. The most broadly understood notion is that of “repairing the world” through human actions. That each of us has a responsibility to change, improve, and fix our surroundings. That the way we repair the world is not by taking on the whole world, but through behaving and acting constructively and beneficially where we are. As a child, I found that powerful. As a middle-aged person, I find that powerful.
It implies that each of us has a hand in working towards the betterment of not just our own existence but that we have responsibility for our community, our state, our world and importantly, the lives of future generations. Essentially, our world is unfinished and we can participate in the ongoing creation of what it will be. Tikkun olam implies that we take responsibility for our world. That we are the stewards of our communities. Like our CFAES community. See you there.