Magazine article Tikkun

Tikkun at Eighteen: The Voice of Radical Hope and Practical Utopianism

Magazine article Tikkun

Tikkun at Eighteen: The Voice of Radical Hope and Practical Utopianism

Article excerpt

There has never been a time when it is more important to affirm a radical vision of hope. And there has never been a time when radical hope seems more difficult, more counter-intuitive, more out of sync with the dominant cynical realism that shapes contemporary culture. To many, radical hope seems little more than a willed ignorance of the cruelty and craziness that resulted from attempts to bring social change in the past hundred years.

We asked a wide array of writers in our community to address the idea of radical hope, knowing that we'd be writing this in early Fall but that you'd be reading it after you know (as we don't) the outcome of the 2004 presidential election. The excellent pieces we received were more than could fit into this issue, so we'll be saving many for the January/February 2005 edition of TIKKUN. We thought this would be a fitting topic for our eighteenth anniversary issue. So let me start the discussion.

It is true that we live in an age in which the hurricanes, global warming, droughts, and other plagues we describe as "natural events" provide us with irrefutable reminders that environmental destruction is proceeding at a pace faster than humanity's capacities to reverse them. Even those in the know are terrified to speak the truth lest they be labeled pessimists.

It is true that we live in an age in which America's imperial wars have begun to match the Roman Empire's reckless and ultimately self-destructive encounters with the people on the periphery (those the Romans called the barbarians and we call the terrorists). We share with the Romans the same inane blindness to the needs of anyone but the world s powerful and privileged elites.

It is true that the failed Utopian movements of the twentieth century-from communism to psychoanalysis to the countercultures of the post-war era-provide conservatives with endless ammunition with which to ridicule those who still call for a fundamental transformation and transcendence of the globalized selfishness that calls itself capitalism.

And yet, it is also still true that there remains a persistent tendency in the human psyche to affirm the possibility of possibility-to continue to believe, as secularists put it, in the indomitable human spirit, or in religious language, to continue to affirm God as the Force of Healing and Transformation inherent in the soul of every human being. Either language yields the same conclusion: that a messianic vision must not be discarded, that radical hope is necessary, and that secular utopian vision must be made practical and put at the center of any rational political agenda.

Or, to put it in other terms, tikkun-the healing and transformation of our planet, of our social relationships, of our global economy, of our politics, and of our inner selves-is more of an immediate necessity than it was when we founded this journal in 1986.

Since the beginning, we have approached this task with both a universalist and a particularist consciousness. TIKKUN emerges from the experience of the Jewish people and its 3,2000 -year history as wounded healers and flawed bearers of the message of the possibility of universal liberation. TIKKUN remains loyal to this legacy by refusing to allow those in power in the Jewish world to transform that legacy into its opposite: a fawning admiration for the exploits of the powerful and a desire to identify with the victors and victimizers, thus abandoning our long history as a slave people who became free and who heard the sacred message that our task was to proclaim the possibility of change and healing. However much that legacy has been perverted by its identification with the cheerleaders for the current government of the State of Israel and the present regime in the United States, Judaism retains enough spiritual sustenance to be the foundation for a transformative vision that can never be fully assimilated into the reckless indifference, moral insipidity, selfishness, and materialism that characterize large parts (though not all of) American Jewish life today. …

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