The Jewish concept of tikkun olam means “to repair the world.” Not only are there many struggles, there are numerous ways a person can help each one. That is a massive undertaking. Where does one even begin? War, oppression, climate change, poverty.
Hillel, the famous Jewish scholar wrote:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
We have a responsibility to the world, but we also have a responsibility to ourselves. Being a good citizen of the world does not mean losing sight of our own self-care or the care of those closest to us. A lesson learned by one little girl in Rosie Saves the World.
Picture a pebble falling on water; the effect of the pebble is concentric circles rippling outwards. There are no big circles until there are small ones. Big-hearted Rosie is so inspired when she learns about tikkun olam that she tries to make one giant splash all at once. She must pause and ask herself: who is she for?
It is a question that philosophers have been asking for centuries. Luckily, the answer to Hillel’s question when is easier. The time is now.