Global Torah

earth1.jpgI’m often struck by how much lip service we pay to the so-called “global village,” yet how increasingly isolated and insular our lives are becoming. So what would it mean – beyond the cliches, beyond the catch phrases? What would it mean to really, truly, live globally?

In my office at our synagogue, I have a framed poster on my wall that says “How to Build Global Community,” then lists a long series of action components – a sort of of “Global Torah.” (The poster was created by the Syracuse Cultural Workers – a great publisher of peace and justice resources). Facing me on the wall just to the left of my desk, it offers me a regular daily challenge to really walk the walk:

– Think of no one as “them.”

– Don’t confuse your comfort with your safety.

– Talk to strangers

– Imagine other cultures through their poetry and novels.

– Listen to music you don’t understand.

– Dance to it.

– Act locally.

– Notice the workings of power and privilege in your culture.

– Question consumption.

– Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown: wake up and smell the exploitation.

– Look for fair trade and union labels.

– Help build economies from the bottom up.

– Acquire few needs.

– Learn a second (or third) language.

– Visit people, places and cultures – not tourist attractions.

– Learn people’s history.

– Re-define progress.

– Know physical and political geography.

– Play games from other cultures.

– Watch films with subtitles.

– Know your heritage.

– Honor everyone’s holidays.

– Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too.

– Read the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

– Understand the global economy in terms of people, land and water.

– Know where your bank banks.

– Never believe you have a right to anyone else’s resources.

– Refuse to wear corporate logos – defy corporate domination.

– Question military/corporate connections.

– Don’t confuse money with wealth or time with money.

– Have a pen/email pal.

– Honor indigenous cultures.

– Judge governance by how well it meets all people’s needs.

– Eat adventurously

– Enjoy vegetables, grains and beans in your diet.

– Choose curiosity over certainty.

– Know where your water comes from and where your wastes go.

– Pledge allegiance to the earth – question nationalism.

– Think South, Central and North – there are many Americans.

– Assume many others share your dreams.

– Know that no one is silent though many are not heard.

– Work to change this.

1 thought on “Global Torah

  1. Happy Reconstructionist

    I realize you may not subscribe to everything on the “living globally” poster, but I for one can’t subscribe to equating “living globally” with living spartanly and rejecting corporate logos (as much as I enjoyed reading No Logo). If we are ever going to expand the number of people who will join us in seeking a better planet, we need to express more balance on the “consumption issues”.

    Yes, we should not thoroughly waste our own personal resources, and we should be highly mindful of the implications of our consumption choices, but nor do we have to seek a lowest common denominator of consumption. It is ok to follow the American dream and succeed economically, and use part of the fruits of our labor to improve our own personal happiness and that of our family. As long as we balance that with using the other part to improve everyone else’s happiness. Same with our time and energy. Living mindfully and globally does not require material self-sacrifice, unless you consider “refraining from wasteful behavior” as self-sacrifice.

    I realize the line is hard to draw regarding wasteful behavior and balanced consumption, but I believe that the thinking evidenced in the poster suggests a standard far stricter than would be comfortable for many people who would otherwise ascribe to the poster’s tenets.


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