Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011

Tikkun Olam Requires the Imagination of Children

by Lois Dickason

The Golden Rule is a moral truth endorsed by all religions. President Kennedy, in his 1963 anti-segregation appeal to Americans, said, "The heart of the question is ... whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated." Tikkun olam applies this to all creation.

Hope for healing the world must start with children. This is modeled through Peace Pizzazz, a children's festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan, sponsored by secular groups (such as the 6th Congressional District Campaign for a U.S. Department of Peace) and religious groups (such as the Skyridge Church of The Brethren) in a collaborative effort to build a whole culture of peace locally and globally.

The theme of this year's Peace Pizzazz, which will take place on May 22, 2011, is "Weaving the Golden Rule into Our Lives," and it will bring together K-5 children from schools, faith groups, and afterschool programs throughout the city. Donating to a local food bank and global charities will be part of their day. Children will engage in peace education discussion and then celebrate an original work of art or literature, and sing and dance to reflect their understanding of the Golden Rule. Doing to others as we would have them do to us is the glue for the planet children will inherit. Kalamazoo Public Schools have endorsed this program with an ad in the Peace Pizzazz brochure. KPS Superintendent Michael Rice has attended and spoken at the event. Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell has also attended, and the Kalamazoo City Council has declared May as Peace Month.

The festival site, Bronson Park, includes a shallow pool with bronze sculptures of children by Kirk Newman, inscribed "May justice and mercy prevail that children may play." Children splash and interact with statues as tables of their art are displayed around them; peace activities, interactive performance, and a parade led by the twelve-foot-tall Peace Mama puppet round out the event.

Teacher Kathy Murphy, who participates with her students, said of the positive energy she observes during her peace education art lessons, "Children are so happy to have this conversation. They witness ... conflict and don't have time to talk about healthy ways of dealing with it. They are learning that revenge is not healthy and there are ways to deal nonviolently with conflict -- skills that the children will need as they move into junior high school and into the larger world."

It has been said that we should learn from children. This is truly the only hope for tikkun olam.

Lois T. Dickason is a physical therapist who resides in South Haven, Mich.

Source Citation: Dickason, Lois. 2011. Tikkun Olam Requires the Imagination of Children. Tikkun 26(1): online exclusive.

tags: Politics & Society  
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