Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011
The Fact of Human Plurality
by Jerome Kohn
The most important thing for the next generation of tikkunistas to recognize is what those genuinely engaged in caring for the world have always recognized: the fact of human plurality. Tikkun olam is itself the realization that every human life is unique and distinct from every other human life; that the odds against human life ever having occurred in the universe are so overwhelming that we can conceive of it only as a miracle; and that this miracle requires us, because we are human, to tend to the world that receives us at birth and from which we eventually depart. Tikkun entails that while we live we share this world with other human beings, and that the knowledge of the destruction of a single human life comes as a loss to every human life.
The purest distillation of Hannah Arendt's wisdom, drawn from everything she wrote, is:
"Not Man but men inhabit this planet. Plurality is the law of the earth."
Jerome Kohn is the director of the Hannah Arendt Center at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. His books include Between Past and Future and Hannah Arendt: Twenty Years Later.
Source Citation: Kohn, Jerome. 2011. The Fact of Human Plurality. Tikkun 26(1): online exclusive.