Thursday, 3 March 2011

Shalom Principles

The workshop notes (Anvil Trust 2010) say that "Shalom is formed from a verb that has as its root-meaning: 'wholeness', 'completeness', 'intactness', 'holistic', 'integratedness' - everything fitting perfectly together" (p 9). The verb 'shalem' "has the sense of - 'to make something complete,' 'to finish,' even 'to make an end of'" (p 9).

This sense of wholeness "emphasises the material side with the sense of 'well being'; people having their physical needs met and satisfied" (p 9). This is for the whole of creation and not only human society. All of creation should be "experiencing completeness, unity, and fullness" (pp 9-10).

My contention is that we can not achieve this form of completeness can not be achieved in an economic system that seeks to balance of input and output, and ensuring a return for all that we have to offer. The Anvil Trust workshop notes don't give this emphasis but there is a repetition of the form "that everything, which shares life with us or has been created for beauty and presence, ...

"enjoys well-being" (p 14),

"experiences justice" (p 14), and

"experiences integrity" (p 15).

This experience of completeness is limited by some ability of that which is created. It is a property of the shalom experience.

Coming back to well-being, the notes contend that "every person should have enough food to eat, clothes to wear, a home to live in, able to provide for themselves and others, enjoy physical health, feel secure - and so on" (p 13). This isn't conditional on the person's ability to contribute or earn. It is what all should experience as part of shalom.

With respect to justice, there "should be just and health giving relationships between individuals and between nations, as a present reality and a future hope" (p 14). Again this isn't conditional. It is what all experience as part of shalom.

With respect to integrity, there is an integration "to the depths of their being, incomplete inner harmony (physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual" (p 15). The notes contend that this is similar to shanti, the Indian culture word for peace.

"Shalom is a declaration of how things should be and it is an affirmation of how things shall be" (p 16). The questions are why don't we have shalom and how can we get there?

Based on current economic principles then I believe we have no hope of ever getting to shalom. It isn't can we afford or pay for shalom. We have the resources. They need to be made available or released. It isn't keep for personal need but rather giving to enable shalom for all.

Rather than seeking to balance books and control distribution, we need to be asking how we can liberate what is already there to bring well-being, justice, and integrity (shalom) to reign through society?

I can only see this happening if we move to a focus that looks to the needs of others and all of creation rather than placing economic management as the highest priority.


Peace & Power: Being vocal, political and spiritual. (2010). Workshop - because faith is a journey. Course Notes. Anvil Trust.

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