1. Get Down to Earth

The purpose of all mysticism, spirituality and religion is to bring those lofty matters down to earth so that they will heal our world.

No teaching is so profound as to have no impact on everyday human life, no activity is so holy as to absolve any person from this mission, and no human is so spiritual as to have no duty towards fellow human beings.

On the contrary, the higher, the more holy and spiritual a thing is, the further it must travel downward to find its true purpose.

—A ubiquitous theme in the Rebbe’s talks.

2. The World Is a Precious Garden

A human being must know that this world is not a lawless jungle, but G‑d’s precious garden, and we are its gardeners.

There is a purpose to being here, and we are all essential players in that great mission. If we find something that is not the way it should be, it is up to us to fix it.

Each one of us is the fulcrum of the world, and the entire world is held in balance by our deeds. Every deed, every word and every thought counts, and with any one small action can tip the entire world towards the side of good.

G‑d cares.

—10th Shvat, 5732 (Jan. 26, 1972).

3. We Are Not Alone

A Jew has a responsibility to touch and uplift every person in his or her world.

For centuries, a Jew would dare not interfere with a non-Jew’s way of life. Today, as we approach the messianic era, the situation has changed. In many countries, Jews are respected, as are Jewish ideals.

In such a world, Jews cannot divorce themselves from their neighbors, their communities or the nations in which they live. Talk with your neighbor, your business associates, your colleagues. Speak not as a preacher, but as a friend. They will appreciate your words; they will love you for them.

Tell them that there is something divine about every human being, and therefore each one of us must act in a divine way, spreading more good throughout the world and acting with honesty and moral integrity. Speak not once, not twice or three times, but many times, in words that will reach their heart.

—As spoken in many talks about the Seven Laws of Noah. See the Rebbe discussing this in Universal Mission and Light Unto the Nations: Part 2 Also see our section on The Seven Noahide Laws.

4. Pass Down Your Ideals

A sustainable society is one that inspires its youth in its ideals. A society that does not do so is doomed to extinction because values that are not taught explicitly quickly disappear.

Jews have known this since our inception as a People. Now it’s time to encourage the countries in which we live to do the same, and place the teaching of upright human values at the center of their education system.

—See Philip Wexler’s treatment of the Rebbe’s statements and views in Social Vision, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Transformative Paradigm for the World, Chapter 5: Learning How to Live: Public Education As Social Repair. See also our section Education and Sharing Day U.S.A.

5. Educate the Whole Child

Education must deal with the entire child—not just the child’s knowledge, but the child’s moral character and ideals.

We can’t afford to limit education to the acquisition of knowledge and preparation for a career, or just “to make a better living.” “A better living” has to mean more to us than financial income. It has to mean a life that is rich in meaning and purposefulness. That translates into better living not only for the individual, but also for society as a whole.

An educational system must have a soul. Children are not computers to be fed a mass of informational data, without regard for their human needs for higher goals and ideals in life.

—Ibid

6. Healthy Societies Are Built On Solid Ground

A society can only be stable when its morals and values are founded upon a stable, unchanging base.

Firm, just and meaningful values demand a consciousness of an absolute frame of reference, also known as one G‑d. Without that frame of reference, morals are subject to the whims of every individual and the ever-changing winds of social preference.

Without a concept of a divine oneness breathing within all the universe and every creature, providing meaning to each thing and purpose to every individual, there is no basis for honesty, equality, justice or human dignity.

When there are alternatives to that one reality, anything can be justified—as we saw in the Holocaust, when the most educated nation in the world rationalized and justified the most inhuman crimes.

—See the Rebbe speaking on this topic in Founded on Faith, a talk from 1975.

7. We Must Do Better Than Incarceration

The institution of the prison as we know it must be radically changed. No human being should be denied the privilege of making his or her unique contribution to society.

Justice is done not only by repairing damage to the victim but also by repairing the perpetrator, helping him become an upright, contributing member of society.

The principal focus must be the prevention of crime, through proper education and safeguards. The goal: Zero prisons, zero prisoners.

—See a translation of the Rebbe’s talk: Prison and Reform — A Torah View. Also see our section on Criminal Justice Reform.

8. One Minute a Day of Silence

Every child and adult should have at least one quiet minute at the beginning of the day to think about the things that really matter: What are your values? Your priorities? What is this world about? Why were you put here? What does your Creator want from you?

This needs to be an integral part of the school day, at the very outset, so that the child will understand that it’s an essential habit, even more than reading and math.

The educators themselves should not tell the children what to think. For that, the students can speak with their parents and grandparents. Put the essentials of education back in the lap of those it belongs to.

—See our section on the Rebbe’s call for a Moment of Silence in public schools.

9. Speak Positively

Our times demand that we use positive language even when describing and naming negative things (as long as this does not obscure matters) and to speak positively as much as possible.

Speaking positive words and thinking positive thoughts are keys to a happy, healthy life and society.

—See Positivity Bias, Mendel Kalmanson, Ezra Press

10. Don’t Demonize, Humanize!

Always distinguish between the person and the behavior.

We were all created in the divine image, and you must seek that out within each person you meet. Speak to that spark inside, and the outer shell of behavior will melt before you.

There is no person from whom you cannot learn something that you could learn from no other person, for each person reflects the wisdom of his or her Creator in a unique way.

Never demonize; always humanize. With love, caring and pleasant, peaceful means, far more can be accomplished than with ultimatums and demands.

—A common theme in the Rebbe’s instructions, and in his personal treatment of others. See also Likutei Sichot, vol. 19, pp. 189-190.