According to Jewish lore, the survival of the world rests on the shoulders of 36 Tzaddikim. A Tzaddik (“im” is the suffix for plural in Hebrew) is a righteous person, basically a do-gooder, somewhere out there, unknown to the world at large and to himself. The number goes down from 36 and the very existence of the world is compromised.
I must’ve heard this bit somewhere when I was a kid and was immediately fascinated by it- not regarding the whole theological or ethnic aspects of the myth, for I think my own birth certificate points to the opposite end of the spectrum- but to its inherent philosophy and, why not, panache.
You cannot automatically assume every do-gooder to be an assh*le or a wimp, you gotta have an open mind in your belief system, whatever it might be, for all the do-gooding and derring-doing to be downright cool. Let go of your martyrs for an instant. Some half-naked bearded guy who’s been doing chin-ups on a T-shaped bar for the last two thousand years must be, well, built like a fortress after pushing up all this time, but that’s neither cool nor necessarily “righteous”, at least not on a worm’s eye-view from the street.
So he supposedly died for me, thank you. Live for me for once, will ya!
We need more good people down here, right now.

I think of the 36 Tzaddikim guys and I think of 36 S.O.B.s with Rudyard Kipling’s “If” hanging from behind their bedroom doors, guys wake up each day and go to bed every night trying to fulfill the promise, to make good for those vows, for each line of the poem.
And off they go, trusting themselves just enough to get the job done, mustering up some amazing willpower to hold hell at bay at every problem and above all, being humble about the whole thing- and as tough as it looks, they actually pull through, they actually make it, 36 guys built to save the world from deep inside the mediocrity of their own lives, etc.
…Right until they stumble upon that last bit from the poem and they’re asked to "fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run", and they fail miserably. The Tzaddik runs straight into a brick wall, that last bit’s one hell of a brick wall for anybody.

Sometimes it feels like that their roll call is dwindling away, feels like this Tzaddikim thing is bordering on what, ten or twelve? Are the hands on the clock coming closer to midnight, is that it?

There’s gotta be somebody left to save the world, to make the world a better place, to add quorum to the myth.

But hey. Think about it.Can the gloomy attitude; It only takes 36 persons!!
Brighten up, buckle up, you ask me?, we’re as good as saved.