Salaam-Shalom is harmony with Others. 

This is social-political transformation. In an unjust and oppressive system, human beings are seen as mere human resources or projects.  The tendency is to thingify people.  When this is the case, human beings who are created in the image of God are sacrificed to the altar of wealth and power.  It becomes easy to oppress and exploit people when they are seen as things.  Many times, well-meaning organizations and institutions—like governments, corporations, schools, military, churches, and even families—wittingly or unwittingly practice this, including institutions that claim to be Christian. We are called to love others as neighbors and not to treat others as competitors.  In salam-shalom perspective, people are called to live a communal lifestyle.  This communal view of life is emphasized by Sallie McFague:[2]

As members of the household called Earth, we are relational beings, defined by our needs that make us dependent on others by our joys that make us desire one another.  We are not just self-interested individuals; in fact, according to the ecological-economic picture of reality, we are basically and primarily communal beings who become unique individuals through help and response to others.

In the communal lifestyle, the Other is treated as a neighbor to be loved as one’s self.  The poor is embraced justly as an integral part of the community.

In contrast, globalism treats the Other as a competitor.  In this perspective, one’s relationship is usually determined by the question, “How can I get ahead?”  It is a competitive lifestyle.  One’s relational environment becomes a rat race.  Progress and growth is pictured as being in the fast lane.  The successful ones are described as those who have arrived.  The one’s who are left behind—economically, politically, socially—are considered losers.  The competitive lifestyle is considered amoral because it is seen as a necessary, rationalistic approach to relationships in the context of market capitalism.

Rationalistic approaches to relationships even crept in many religious circles.  People would have to find out what kinds of people go to a certain church with a conscious or subconscious evaluative factor: “What’s in it for me?”  Rationalistic decision-making that is aimed to satisfy one’s religious wants is a fact in many Christian congregations in many of our cities and municipalities.  When relationships are viewed based on exchange value (extrinsic value), the Other’s God-given value as one created as “very good,” fallen, and yet loved (intrinsic value), is reduced to being a competitor, if not merely as a commodity.  When this happens, the church may be contributing, wittingly or unwittingly, to the devaluation of human beings— from that of a person created in God’s image to that of a thing born to be used.

For the Jewish listeners of Jesus Christ, the Samaritan was the person who loved his neighbor.  Neighborly love can come from Others whom we do not usually consider to be neighbors (Lk. 10: 25-37).  For the followers of Jesus Christ in an era of globalization, the neighbor is the Muslim, the Jew, the Buddhist, the religious Other.[3]  We can give love to them.  We can receive love from them.

[2] Sallie McFague, Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), p. 110.

[3] David H. Jensen, In the Company of Others: A Dialogical Christianity (Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 2001), pp. 187-200.

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