One thing I love about the Jewish mindset is the lack of punishment-as-motivator. That is, we are to do things to make the world a better place, and to make ourselves better people. Not to avoid punishment or to gather “heavenly rewards”.
Tikkun Olam is the idea that our job is to “repair” creation. As if a mirror has shattered and it’s our job to pick up all the pieces. The idea is that we have to literally DO something. The whole “I’ll pray for you” isn’t enough.
While the below isn’t a concrete action like tzedakah (charity), it’s a good start. I really love this because it reminds us that we are all more alike than we are different.
One YouTube video which I have found really exemplifies this idea is the Charter for Compassion.
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.