Tikkun Olam: This is My World, and I’m It’s Caretaker

“The Talmud teaches that every person must say to himself “The world was created for me,” not as a statement of ultimate self-centeredness, rather out of a sense of unique responsibility for the world. This is my world and I’m its caretaker. If there’s a problem, I’ve got to do something about it.” –
By religious standards, I am not a religious person. I take issue with the often sexist, often xenophobic mindset reflected in much organized religion. Even the quote above comes from an article with an LGBTQ-exclusionary mindset. For all that I believe in God, over the years I have drifted farther and farther from organized religion.
But if there’s one element of Judaism I wish I could share the world over, it’s Tikkun Olam.

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World

Tikkun olam is defined as an obligation to fix the world. It can be interpreted in many ways, but most definitions focus on human social interactions. Care for others. Donate money to charity. Help your neighbor.
Where many aspects of religion focus on the hereafter, tikkun olam reminds us: there’s also the here and now. We are responsible for Earth. People cannot live on faith alone.

Responsibility for Those We Impact

This responsibility for the world and those around us is also what urges people in UX to think about ethics. Many people are thinking about our responsibility. Some are writing about (or taking action on) how we can improve the world around us. Take for example:

The Urge to Escape, the Responsibility to Act

When this tweet appeared in my feed, I smiled. And then I thought to myself “but it’s not enough.” This is a privileged view: the world is crap, so ignore it for the day.

This is my world, and I’m it’s caretaker. I need to take care of myself as well, yes. But I also don’t get days off from my responsibility. Do something nice for yourself. And then do something nice for someone else.

Tikkun olam.

2 comments Add yours
  1. Great article and a wonderful graphic. Who created it. I would like to use it, with full artist’s credit, in a Tikkun Olam newsletter I am creating for my small Reconstructionist synagogue. Thanks, Lynn

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