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  • Nicole

repairing a broken world

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

When I first wrote these words in our mission / vision statement I was thinking about the Jewish idea of Tikkun. Tikkun olam is Hebrew for world repair. I first heard this term as a teenager, in my personal wanderings towards a more humane and liberatory kind of religious practice. Finally somebody was speaking the truth about the world we lived in. Why was there misery for some and ease for others? Why did people suffer so under the hands of other people? It seemed clear we were harming ourselves, each other and all life yet no one wanted to talk about this. These were the things I yearned to understand as a young person. I felt tremendous relief when I came across this idea and it has stuck with me ever since. It has motivated everything I have done so far and will do. I love us too much to settle for what the people in power have told us. I have seen glimpses of our beauty. Those glimpses have only left me hungry for more. Art has been the one place where it consistently appears. That is why I am an artist. I believe in beauty, I believe in the work, determination and courage it takes to help it shine through.

As I got older looking for more concrete ways to repair the world I threw myself into grassroots political organizing. For many years I thrived on this direct confrontation with the systems of oppression that shape our world. Until one day when I quite literally burnt out. And soon after fell into a deep despair. I could no longer see how we would ever end this mess. I was horrified by the idea that any of us should sacrifice our lives in this struggle. We were being eaten alive by the animosity we sought to erase. In my search for healing I found Buddhism. Buddhism is a philosophy whose main tenant is the fundamental goodness of humans and our world. This is not the Judeo-Christian goodness which has always seemed more performative than embodied. More interested in perfection than truth. The Buddhists understand goodness to be a fundamental part of life itself, a beingness, a connectedness to all life; it's an energizing life force we can all tap into. There is a spontaneous joy that arises from that. To connect we must be willing to sit with ourselves. We must be willing to sit in stillness and face all of the beautiful and terrible truths about who we are and the world we live in. It requires tremendous courage to embrace all aspects of who we are and what the world is.

That is the heart of empathy, of kindness, of love. It is easy to love what is beautiful, what is “right” , how do we embrace what is broken, how do we begin to accept the worst aspects of who we are. That is our journey, towards honesty, towards peace, towards wholeness. What we must learn to embrace is us, what we must learn to love is our world. For many that is a tall order. The world we live in is based on caste systems that enforce top down power. Oppression. The high over the low. Entire groups of people have brought and continue to bring great harm to other more vulnerable people. There is no moving forward until the perpetrators accept responsibility for what has been and continues to be done and make amends. There is no moving forward until the victims' experiences have been meaningfully acknowledged thus opening space for them to work through their pain. When all life is cherished equally, we can begin to work together for the benefit of all. Then and only then can we create a world where everyone is looked after and no one is harmed. The work is interconnected, just like we humans are to all life, you cannot have one without the other.

In our pursuit of art we practice this sacred work. Doing art creates spaces where we encounter ourselves and one another with the possibility of repairing what is broken in ourselves and our world. Our beauty is revealed through the work, how it peels back the layers to reveal our true selves. There is great joy in that discovery, a joy that is contagious. In sharing our artistic process we remind people that so much more is possible and hopefully inspire them to start their own journeys.

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