Yesod she’b’malchut: Foundation of the divine kingdom.
Today I’m thinking about activism. That’s how we create a perfected “kingdom” on earth.
Traditional language of Jewish prayer calls God “king.” Some people (like me!) recoil from this. We don’t want a king, thank you. Not even a benevolent dictator. We’re trying to get rid of tyrants, not worship them!
But some of those people (again, like me) are more comfortable speaking of the world as “God’s Kingdom.” We’re all citizens. And we all work together through citizen diplomacy. Through activism, we try to make the world a better place.
Activism is on my mind this week. At work, we’re making final preparations for a conference on Religion and Thoughtful Activism. So, today I met with students who will be participating in the conference.
Looks like we all share a few ideas. We’re interested in practical theology, not just ideas. And we find critical analyses of racism, capitalism, and colonialism helpful. We aspire towards radical love for all, though we fall short daily. Also, we believe we have obligations towards creator and creation. And we are all seeking the best way to fulfill them.
Especially me. Because I often feel I don’t know what to do. And, when I do know, I don’t do enough.
Why is that?
The first and simplest answer, of course, is that I don’t know enough. Or do enough. And thus I see myself truly.
A second answer comes from knowing that activism is often a matter of life and death. But some of what I’m working on isn’t that for me. So it doesn’t feel as urgent as I think it should. And thus my heart isn’t working hard enough.
A third answer brings me back to God’s kingdom. Maybe I do really feel that God is a king. A good king, who will eventually sort things out for us. And, somehow, God’s goodness is the foundation. Not our activism.
So, for me, God is a king and God isn’t a king. Both of these views are luxuries, I think. Only a person living in safety would imagine the world aligns to make us all safe. And only a person blind to greed and power at work could have a simple faith in society.
I don’t need to find a single answer. It’s more important to keep asking. And to turn the answers into action.
Today is the 48th day of the Omer, i.e., six weeks and six days.
New to counting the Omer? Here’s a primer.
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