"If I wasn't involved in the political process," my young son said one morning, "there'd be a huge hole torn in the world." I was touched by the way my seven-year-old expressed his feelings, and by the passion in his declaration. Joyfully, I taught him the Hebrew phrase for the feeling he was expressing, "tikkun olam" – the repair or healing of the world. He was glad to learn that his religion has a sacred obligation mirroring his personal belief.

He has formally announced his plans to be a politicianI think my son, Noah, shall contribute more to tikkun olam when he is past the age of playground scuffles and shoving. My boy is far from perfect. Seeing him whipping around the field at school, shrieking with exuberance, it is evident that he is not of mild nature. If further evidence is needed of this, there are his visits to the principal's office after bouts of mischief. But in his heart, Noah comprehends the connections among beings; that a wrong done to one, is a wrong done to all. In his mind, he helps to repair the world by being part of the political process. Indeed, he has formally announced his plans to be a politician when he grows up.

The seeds of Noah's political ambition were sown this past school year when he began lobbying for legislation to decrease school bus pollution, and discovered a world of people as passionate as him about this issue.

How did Noah come to be a seven-year-old lobbyist? It certainly was not a school project. First graders, at least in public school, aren't taught about civics, except perhaps that two presidents, one of whom needlessly chopped down a tree, were born in February. For some reason, schools seem afraid of teaching the rudiments of democracy. Certainly, first-graders are told nothing of how presidents become presidents, never mind how bills become laws. And is civics ever taught as anything but a droning bore?

No, his lobbying career was the result of reacting with horror to the discovery of what diesel emissions on school buses do to the lungs, hearts and immune systems of children. To Noah, school bus pollution is a kind of violence that harms us all by damaging our health.

We had learned from a friend who directs an environmental group that a huge percentage of diesel emissions, instead of venting outside the buses, have traditionally been vented right into the passenger area where the children are – essentially, into their lungs. Noah was stunned: why were grown-ups allowing children to be poisoned? Why didn't their parents do something? First things first: he refused to ride on school buses until the problem was resolved. (Fortunately, we are in reasonable walking distance of Noah's school.) Second: he decided to research the issues (Indeed, what we learned was true, as we confirmed from many sources). Next order of business: to fix the buses. As Noah's mother, I waded into this issue beside him – not as a leader, but as a support.

He had the exciting experience of lobbying directly with legislatorsWhen Noah learned that a law was being considered by our state legislature that would require buses to be retrofitted with filters to eliminate most diesel emissions, he became an enthusiastic lobbyist. He and a young colleague testified about the bill at a press conference, where Noah also spent time talking with a scientist. Additionally he had the exciting experience of lobbying directly with legislators. This was such an empowering and heartening experience that he became convinced that politics is a noble pursuit. His respect and admiration for the legislators who spoke with him – who listened to him - is tremendous.

At home, with blocks, masking tape, cardboard and a roll of tickets, he created a miniature voting booth that he took into school to share with his classmates and "demonstrate" the political process. When Noah told me he was taking his voting booth to school for the weekly class share, I nearly suggested he take something less unusual. I feared the children might tease him. Fortunately, I held my tongue, and it turned out the children thought the booth was "cool."

I am grateful that Judaism teaches us to have faith, to be confirmed in our altruism. Certainly, modern culture does not need more lethargy, more sarcasm, more facetious jibes at the political process. We are taught by the Torah that to be part of the healing of the world – to mend the tears in a world torn by injustice and suffering - is to fulfill one of G‑d's highest purposes for us. Every soul who contributes to the mending of the world, to the closing of ruptures between human beings, or between human beings and the earth, is beloved to G‑d. ?

Perhaps if the democratic process, flaws and all, were presented to children as the blessing it is, they would grow up respecting it enough to participate. Are politics corrupt? Better to ask if humanity is corrupt. Corrupt at times, yes, but not at its heart, not at the tender first beats of a baby's heart.

Unlike my son, I have many cynical moments, born of painful experience in the world. But the Torah discourages us from wallowing in that cynicism through the laws and codes that infuse integral morality into my day-to-day life. And in this, I feel blessed. To the degree I succeed in keeping the Torah commandments, I feel at home in the universe. I am grateful that the spiritual values Judaism teaches so eloquently and naturally guide us toward raising children whose hearts value essence.

I am also grateful to report that the school bus filter legislation, SB1032 of Connecticut, was signed into law this summer. Multitudes of children worked hard on behalf of the bill along with many grown-ups including idealistic politicians, community members, environmental groups and, yes, parents. (Behind every successful child, the saying ought to go, there is at least one worn-out but proud and grateful parent.)

It is my prayer and hope that his endeavors will involve tikkun olamMy son reminds me there are other things he wants to do besides being a politician, and he plans to do them all. Inventor, toy-maker, construction equipment operator: that's just the short list. Perhaps, by the time Noah is grown, professions will exist that have yet to be imagined. The human experience expands daily. But whatever Noah does, it is my prayer and hope, indeed my faith, that his endeavors will involve tikkun olam, the repair of our beautiful and anguished world, and that cynicism will never corrode his soul.

I encourage Noah to look to the stream of Torah to see the origins of ethical values that will sustain him as he seeks to satisfy his thirst for a more compassionate world. Without comprehending these origins, I believe that thirst could become despairing and angry, but in the context of Torah, such a thirst will yield patience, calm and purpose. As we begin this New Year, I am awed by G‑d's compassion in giving each of us the strength to attempt the task of tikkun olam, whatever our age or life experience, and in so doing, to repair our own souls.