Sunday, March 21, 2010

Repairing the World

Shabbat #12

Guests: Kelly, Ned, daughter S. (4) and son S. (6). Kelly and I went to high school together in the 80's. And have pictures of our 80's big hair to prove it.

Menu: Blue Cheese Crackers and Bison Sausage, Chicken and Morels, Greens with Citrus Vingarette, Toby's Challah, "Crack Pie"

What I Learned:

This week I kept it regional. As in Missouri. Goatsbeard Farm cheese in the crackers served alongside Bowood Farm bison sausage. Organic chicken complimented with Ozark morels. Greens with alfalfa from Sweetwater Farms. Toby's challah. And pie made with Farrar Out Farm eggs and Heartland Dairy cream. Local Harvest Grocery on Morgan Ford hooked me up. Yes. It was a little out of the way. And a bit more expensive. But I wanted to do it for Kelly.

And for my family.

Kelly is one of the most socially and environmentally conscious people I know. And a huge supporter of the Slow Food movement. Don't worry. I didn't know what that was either. (And, no, it doesn't relate to poor service or cold soup.) Slow Foodies promote fresh, local, and sustainably-produced food. They work to counteract fast food and fast life.

Kelly's support of the movement doesn't surprise me. When we had our babies she bought an immersion mixer. To make her own baby food. And she has a compost pile. I think she even used cloth diapers. And while I admire her, the thought of doing all this plus raising the child that is eating the freshly blended organic farm raised summer squash is fairly frightening to me.

That said, I'd like to be more like Kelly. Minus the cloth diapers. But sometimes I get a little glum about my world. Can I really make a difference? Even if I separate my recyclables, does it really matter if the rest of the block isn't doing the same thing?

Take the cup incident.

I run. Everyday. Down Wydown which is perhaps the most beautiful street in the city and a favorite of the running and walking set. On Monday running past a cement light post I noticed a half empty paper cup of coffee. Who leaves half a cup of coffee on the corner -- especially at 6 a.m.? I thought as I ran by. On Tuesday I passed it again. Wonder how long it will take for the bottom of the cup to drop out -- like it does in the console of my car when I get lazy? And I kept running. On Wednesday I passed it. Still there. Can't believe no one picked that up yet. The light turned red. I stopped. And looked at the cup. Then I picked it up, carried it across the street and deposited in the trash can. I was about to pat myself on my back for being so conscious. Until I thought about what I'd done - or not done. How pathetic that it took me three days to do what I should have done on day one? Even if no one else had done it either.

Later that day I drove to Jefferson City. An advocacy day for addiction and recovery was taking place at the capitol. I sit on a board that supports these issues - especially among young people. Mostly through programs in schools and peer to peer teaching. Every once in a while I like to go to these programs. To watch the kids. See them in action. And confirm that all the kids in high school these days aren't as irresponsible and ill-advised as I was.

I wasn't disappointed. I watched Jillian, a junior from Lafayette -- my alma mater, teach her peers how to speak up at city council meetings. Jillian wants people to stop smoking in public areas. She was impressive. A lot more impressive than I was at that age ... or any age.

The 200 plus high school students went to the capitol to talk to their legislators. I went to the floor of the House. Where Steve used to sit. And watched a group of people who chose to sacrifice time with their families and higher paying jobs approve a bill to ban synthetic pot.

Then I drove home with a guy who spent his entire career in prevention -- including 30 plus years as executive director of the agency that taught Jillian how to speak to the city council.

Jews believe in tikkun olam, "the repair of the world." Tikkun olam assumes that the world is not perfect, but that it is perfectible, in our hands.

Jewish words, based in Jewish tradition. But a universal notion.

I spent Wednesday with students and counselors trying to curb the effects addiction. On Thursday I shopped at a local grocer where I bought chocolate made by a former criminal defense attorney who now shares his net proceeds with farmers in Ecquador. On Friday I had dinner with a high school friend who cares enough about sustainable food to eat it ... and explain it.

People who probably pick up the cup on day one. Even when no one is looking.

People who are repairing the world.

The kind of people I want Ben and Sarah to be.

But I've got to be that person first.

So instead of questioning how I can repair the world if everyone else isn't repairing it too, I'm going to assume they are.

And join in.


  1. I'm not Jewish, so I'm learning a lot from your blog. Jewish Philosophy 101: Jews believe in tikkun olam, "the repair of the world." Tikkun olam assumes that the world is not perfect, but that it is perfectible, in our hands." Thank you, Rebecca, for your insightful soul-searching that you are willing to share.

  2. Thanks Anonymous. The notion of perfectibility comes from Anita Diamant who has written several books on Jewish life(see side bar). She also wrote a fantastic historical fiction called The Red Tent. That's a book that I think would be enjoyed by anyone (particularly women) regardless of religion. Thanks for reading!