Jocelyn Sage Mitchell feels very strongly about community involvement and helping others.
Jocelyn supports organizations that are making a difference every day, inspiring her to be more involved in healing the world.
Jocelyn believes deeply in a concept from Judaism called “tikkun olam” (pronounced tee-KOON oh-LAHM), which means “repairing the world.” It’s the idea that we are all connected to each other, and we all have a responsibility to help heal the world. This idea of our interconnections and our responsibility to each other can be found in many religions and cultures all around the world—for example, the Zulu concept of “Ubuntu,” which means “I am because you are.” It’s part of the Zulu phrase, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” which means that a person becomes a person through their connections and interactions with other people.
You don’t need to know the phrase “tikkun olam” or “ubuntu” to understand and identify with our responsibility to each other and to our shared world! But sometimes, the Big Problems of our world – poverty, inequality and injustice, violence, climate change, racism and sexism, dysfunctional government – seem too large to even try to help for the average person. But Jocelyn believes that we can each do something. Yes, those small efforts can build on each other to make big changes. But our individual efforts also make a difference to someone just by themselves.
Jocelyn finds inspiration from the starfish story: an old man takes a walk on the beach just before dawn and sees a young boy picking up starfish that have washed up on the sand and tossing them, one by one, back into the water. The old man looks up and down the sand and sees tons of beached starfish and shakes his head, telling the young boy, “This is a hopeless effort. There are too many to save. You can’t make a difference!” The young boy looks at the old man, picks up another starfish, and throws it back into the ocean, replying simply, “I made a difference to that one.”
Or, to put it another way, Jocelyn uses a baseball analogy. ? She remembers the first season of the Nationals baseball team in Washington D.C. (2005). The Nats had a remarkably good first year for a team with fairly little talent. They were close to making the playoffs. Jocelyn and her husband were at the game when they could have clinched a spot. And it just all fell apart. The Nats were ineffectual in all ways – pitching, fielding, hitting, bringing runners home. And Jocelyn remembers this older guy sitting near them, who at some point just stood up and yelled in this plaintive, slightly hysterical voice, “Dooooooooooooooooo something!” The Nats didn’t end up “doing something” in that game (or for several miserable seasons afterward), but the phrase has stuck! Jocelyn believes that it’s important, whenever possible, for each of us to dooooooooooooooooo something. Whatever that is. We can each do something with the reality that we have!
We have a choice everyday to get involved in our community and help others. We each have something to contribute, and we can each support other people’s efforts. What do you care about? What inspires you? There are so many different ways to reach out and connect with others. We can donate items. We can offer to help a neighbor. We can volunteer at a community center. We can focus on our natural world: there is so much to do with protecting the environment and ensuring the humane treatment of animals! There are also so many possible causes that matter for the daily lives of people at home and around the world. Basic human needs of food, water, and shelter are crucial. But social and cultural organizations feed the soul as well. The point is: there is not just one way to be a positive and active citizen of the world. As a Chinese proverb (at least, according to the internet!) reminds us, “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.” Everything we choose to do can help make our world better, for ourselves and for others.
Jocelyn’s community blog highlights positive organizations that are making a difference every day and that inspire her to be more involved in healing the world!