My high school years have been marked by great strife accompanied by a rise in activism. From the shock of election night 2016 to the first Women’s March the day after the inauguration and the myriad other protests to support Black lives, advocate climate action, or call for gun control, that has meant all of us, raising our voices for changes that we want to see.
Due in part to this activism, and to the profound shift of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has changed drastically in the last few months. Now, more than ever, we’re poised to address systemic injustices in our society and economy. The call to action after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor exemplified the strength that can emerge from pain. Their deaths have also proven to be tipping points, opening even more eyes to the injustice of police brutality and the effects of systemic racism.
As we have become accustomed to living in a pandemic and have seen rising awareness of these injustices and understanding of the need for political change, the question that we ask each other has changed from “what will tomorrow bring?” to “what does tomorrow need?”
This question, and the questions we must ask ourselves — that I ask myself every day, are steeped in and informed by the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam: repairing the world. We must leave this place better than how we found it, but how? How will your values guide you into action? Will you sign petitions to remove police from our schools, donate food to protesters or money to businesses that have been destroyed? It is up to us to figure out what manifestation of systemic injustice speaks to us; whether it’s unjust policing, gun violence, healthcare disparities, food deserts, climate change, or any of the other ways that our country is not fulfilling its promise of equality for all. How you decide to participate is up to you but our mandate from Judaism is clear: we must join the fight for equality.
We have before us an opportunity to easily and clearly make our voices heard, by choosing who will hold the most powerful position in the country. In this choice, we can decide the tenor of the next four years, we can move towards goals that now seem impossible, and we can avert crises that otherwise would become unavoidable. One of the most important issues facing our country and our world is climate change. Joe Biden has a plan to combat this global crisis by ensuring that the United States attains a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. Every community in our country has seen the effects of climate change in one way or another, but marginalized communities are disproportionately affected. The Biden administration will ensure that all clean and sustainable advancements are accessible, inclusive, and community-driven.
Though there is no singular way for us to show our commitment to justice in our daily lives, VOTING is a fail-proof and rare way for your voice to be heard and to begin the practice of Tikkun Olam.
The November 2020 election presents us with an opportunity to take this fight to the White House and start actively repairing the world through effective policies. The next president will have the power of redefining what is possible, going beyond what we have done in the past, and implementing new legislation that will move our generation closer towards the justice we seek.
Joe Biden is the only presidential candidate who will respect the dignity of all people and the sanctity of our planet. The Jewish principle Tikkun Olam calls for us to take this rare and dire opportunity to begin repairing our country and the world.
Talia Sachs is a senior at Saint Paul Central High School. She is an activist for gun-violence prevention and other social justice issues.