Repair the World

My previous post was short and rude but I’ve been a bit distracted lately.

My son is in love with a woman who he has never met. I have proven that she is not who she claims to be but he rejects my proof an continues to believe the silly fantasy that she is telling him. She is affecting his work and I’m afraid he’ll soon loose his job. My truck blew its water pump and I just spend a large amount of money getting it fixed. But afterward, it sounded like a dirt bike because of a bad fan clutch. Sasha and I parked the truck back at the car shop over the weekend so the mechanic could look at it when the shop opened, but while the truck was parked at the shop, the car broke down on the entrance ramp to 64 off of Greenbrier. Sasha and I got towed 50 miles back to the shop and swapped the car for the truck and drove the truck back home. The washing machine is broken. I tried to fix it but gave up, in part because we’ve been wanting to replace it for a while. But we haven’t been able to look at used washing machines because the truck is broken. This past couple of weeks also included poison ivy, 12 hours of driving to Maine and 12 hours back, the start of a new semester, and eight pigs ignoring the zap of the electric fence and running around freely, tearing up our yard.

In the middle of this bizarre few weeks, Sasha got “Machine Gun Preacher” from Netflix, and despite all of my extraordinary events, I realize that nothing bad has actually happened to me.

It’s hard to put the realization that I am not unlucky into proper context. While I shouldn’t wallow in self-pity, I should also avoid saying, “There but for the grace of God go I” because that phrase is one of the most extraordinarily self-centered phrases ever spoken. The Glory of God is not proven by the fact that such terrible things happen to other people that my own troubles pale in comparison. Terrible things happen not because God wants me to count my blessings, but because the world is broken. And the lesson that we should take from that fact isn’t that we should be thankful, but that we have an obligation to repair the world. My crime isn’t lack of appreciation but lack of action.

“Repair the world” is a Jewish phrase, “tikkun olam” in Hebrew. Despite my heritage, I had to look it up. I was reminded of it when it was used in another movie, “Leaves of Grass”. Watching such a horrifying movie as “Machine Gun Preacher” at a time when I felt I was worthy of pity has renewed my commitment to repair the world.

In the movie, Sam Childers looses balance between obligations to his family and his mission to help those who desperately need it. I don’t know how to find that balance, myself. I don’t see myself traveling around the world and fighting vicious militants who are breaking everything. Perhaps it’s enough to shed light on some of the horror and toss a few bucks to the people who are doing something about it. But while I may never figure out the perfect balance, I do know that self-pity isn’t part of the formula.

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