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Stuart Hallewell
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In Syria, sleeping between his parents.

I wanted to share this with you because it served as such a potent reminder of why I do what I do. My family has been shaped by war; everyone's lives were shaped by the wars they survived (and others didn't), by the places they fled to, by the fears of other wars to come. 

Our world is broken. It is broken in so many ways that sometimes it's hard to count. This is the consequence of things we cannot control: of the lack of infinite resources, of our natural tendencies to want to protect ourselves at the expense of others, of history, of habit. It is the consequence of a universe with free will in it.

These are things we can change. We have exceptional power in the world: not infinite power, but some power in each of our hands, and great power combined. If we have any useful purpose, it is to fix the evils of the world.

The Rabbis tell us that on the day the Messiah comes, we will all be instituted into perfect health, want will be eliminated from the world, and a regime of perfect justice will be instituted: and that on that day, nobody will notice, because the condition for the Messiah to come is that we will have first created, by our own hands, the Messianic kingdom in the world. 

This is not an easy task, nor is it one we should expect to achieve in our lifetimes. That's OK. But it is important to work towards it, every day.

Not all of these things are obvious. It's not hard to guess what a teacher or a doctor does to repair the world, but that's only a small part of it. The construction worker who builds a house with all of his abilities, the parent who raises a child to be kind and thoughtful, the writer who puts our thoughts into words so that we can understand ourselves better, the public servant who honestly and diligently works to create justice and wealth, the scientist who adds to our store of knowledge and opens new doors of understanding, all help to build up the world. And the builder who leaves something shoddy because nobody will ever know, the parent who encourages their child's baser instincts, the propagandist, the corrupt official, all take down the work that the rest of us are trying to build.

I'm sharing this image with you because you should never, in all the days of your life, forget the stakes of what we do. Will the things we build prevent this? Will they comfort the child, help him in the days that are to come? What could we have done differently, and what can we do in the future?

Think about these things night and day: write them on the doors of your house, hold them in front of your eyes. Spend your time thinking about the choices you make individually and the choices we make as a society: are these the choices which will lead to the best consequences? Why? Why not? Debate these things every day with your friends and your family, and with strangers and people who disagree with you. Make your work an offering, every day, towards the repair of the world.

The Mishna says: It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside. Never forget that.

(The image was shared with me by +Sreek Menon, via Reddit)

Sasha on 6Music now, tune in! #6mix  

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