Who is going to fix up this mess of a world? The politicians? The social workers? The philosophers? The think tanks and analysts?

Perhaps some great minds can shed some light so we can find the door. Perhaps some sensible bureaucrat may even leave the door unlocked.

But don't wait for real change to enter through that door. Don’t wait for the academics and authorities in their ivory and steel towers to plan or enforce it. Don’t wait for those taking notes on the other side of a one-way glass to fix the world.

Real change is an inside job.Real change is an inside job. It is made by those who have an investment in the real world. By people who are charging for their services, buying and selling, inventing and manufacturing, trading and transporting. Those building the world have the power to fix it.

Magical Connections

Money and tikun have much to do with one another. Both are about putting things together. Or people together. Or people and things together.

Somehow, just with those connections, you’ve created more value in the world. Since you created it, you get a major chunk of that value, often in the form of money.

It turns out that making money is magical—something out of nothing.

How does the magic work? Where does that value come from?

Go back to the idea of tikun. Everything began as a single thought. When we make connections, we are reassembling that thought.Everything began as a single thought. When we make connections, we are reassembling that thought. As the connections assemble, more and more meaning appears.

We see that meaning as value. Sometimes we can even represent that value as money. And with that money, we can make yet more connections.

It turns out that commerce, as well as art, music, literature, the sciences—basically all activities that are particular to the human race—can be a form of tikun. They all can involve connecting the shattered fragments of our world to create value.

Now look at our world today. A global communications network in the hands of almost everyone has increased abundance many times over, spreading it to the extreme frontiers of human settlement.

For thousands of years, only a select few—around 5%—were literate. Today 80% of adults around the globe can read and write. Poverty and hunger have diminished worldwide more rapidly than anyone had predicted—by more than 50% in 20 years. Despite the common perception, we enjoy the most peaceful era of history—because we’ve discovered it’s better to make commerce than war.

A villager in Botswana may have no electricity, no running water, not even a bicycle to ride—but he has a mobile phone, and with that, access to all human knowledge and a means to contribute yet more information and experience. Nothing could more powerfully transform a person’s understanding of himself and his relationship to the world.

Connections are being made. Connections that create value.

Granular Connections

The problem is that there are other kinds of connections. Connections, paradoxically, that tear us apart.

Tikun is what occurs when people do the things that people do—and do them right. It happens when we connect from the inside-out. When we deal with other people as fellow human beings. When we appreciate the value of the resources we work with. When we take pride in our services. Even more so when we see our work as a divine mission—which it truly is.

When business is not about value, but about money; not about the fruit, but about the shell; not about the people, but about what you can get out of them—then it’s a dark and nasty force of chaos, dehumanization and destruction.

Instead of harmonizing society, Valueless connections create a granulated, homogenized pseudo-culture.so that each makes his or her unique contribution, it renders a granulated, homogenized pseudo-culture—a world where all the traditional bonds of family, community, tribe and culture are ripped away, to be replaced with isolation, abuse and emptiness. We are left as chaff in the wind, to be swept in aimless, lonely circles. Nothing sticks, there is no center, there is no value.

Real World Tikun

So it is that history travels in two opposing trajectories at once, both driven by the same human drive to dominate our world—for better, but too often, for worse.

Who chooses which trajectory will dominate? Not the legislators. Not the academics. Not the preachers. Not the enlightened souls who sit and ponder.

It is the salesperson who sells his customers what he knows to be best for them. The school teacher who treats each child as a person, an entire world. The business executive who is concerned for the welfare of the company’s employees both at the office back home and in the factory across the sea—and in the villages in which those workers live. The manufacturer whose every worker feels a sense of mission and meaning in their work.

Where the real world happens, Where the real world happens, from there is its tikun.from there is its tikun.

There will come a time, writes Maimonides, when “the occupation of the entire world will be only to know G‑d.” Meaning, we will have occupations. We will be builders. Importers. Exporters. Manufacturers. Professionals. And why will we occupy ourselves with these things? Because these are the ways to know the One who spoke and brought all things into being.

And so they are, as well, today.