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HARMONY WITH OTHERS

SHALOM IS HARMONY WITH OTHERS

This is social-political transformation.  We are called to love others as neighbors and not to treat others as competitors.

In shalom perspective, people are called to live a communal lifestyle.  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 ones who are left behind—economically, politically, socially—were 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 the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila’s affluent subdivisions.  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 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 a globalized Philippine society, the neighbor is the Political Other (Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Communist Party of the Philippines, etc.), the Religious Other (Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Indigenous Spirituality, etc.).  We can give love to them.  We can receive love from them.

 

[NEXT: HARMONY WITH THE CREATION]

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