Peace is harmony with the Creator, with others, with one’s being, and with the creation.
The Arabic word salaam, and the Hebrew word shalom basically means completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace. Salaam-Shalom can also be described as the quality of life characterized by harmonious relationship with the Creator, with others, with one’s being, and with the creation.
1. Peace is harmony with the Creator. This is spiritual-ethical transformation. Harmony with the Creator is acknowledging the One who created all that exist as the Ultimate Reality. The other aspects of our life’s reality are subordinated to the Creator. When we submit ourselves to the Creator, such act of submission requires the reordering of everything else. To submit to the Creator is to reorder the lives of the worshippers based on the awareness that God is Ultimate Reality.
For those who seek harmony with the Creator, a commitment to spiritual-ethical transformation is made.
2. Peace is harmony with one’s being. This is psycho-social transformation. This is about our identity and development as a person. Identity means being a person-in-community, not a consumer-in-the-marketplace. On one hand, self can be understood as soul, living being, life, and person. On the other hand, self can also be understood as desire, appetite, emotion, and passion. The former refers to the relational-spiritual aspects of our self that we share with other human beings and with the Creator. The latter refers to basic instincts of the self that we share with animals. When the self is merely regarded as consumer-in-the-marketplace, we limit our “self-ness” to the basic animal instincts of our humanity. We are then reduced to only one side of our “self-ness.” Hence, we are alienated from our own self and we do not experience the salaam-shalom or wholeness of the self. This alienated self is the easy target of commercial advertisements that lull and manipulate human beings to become mere consumer-in-the- marketplace.
In salaam-shalom perspective, the harmonious self—the wholeness of soul, life, personality, desire, appetite, emotion, and passion that characterize us as living beings—leads a person to live an abundant life. Abundant Life means living life in its fullness—spiritually, physically, socially, economically, and culturally—in the context of the community. Abundant Life is not defined by what I have but by who I am in the context of relationships. A person experiencing an abundant life regards her or his identity as a person-in-community and not as mere consumer-in-the-marketplace.
3. Peace is harmony with others. This is socio-political transformation. We are called to love others as neighbors and not to look at others as mere competitors. In salaam-shalom perspective, people are called to live a community-oriented lifestyle. In the community 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, a greed-oriented perspective treats the other as a competitor. In this perspective, one’s relationship is usually determined by the question, “How can I get ahead?” One’s relational environment becomes a rat race. Progress and growth is imagined 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 competition.
A harmonious person loves his neighbor. The neighbor includes the enemies—those who are usually prejudged as the outsider, the untrustworthy, the traitor, the weird ones. Neighborly love can come from others or outsiders whom we do not usually consider to be neighbors. In a pluralistic, multicultural Philippine society, the neighbor is the political other, the ideological other, the religious other. We can give love to them. We can receive love from them.
4. Peace is harmony with the creation. This is economic-ecological transformation. Creation, from shalom perspective, is seen as an organic-relational world, not merely as a mechanical- utilitarian world.
In a mechanical-utilitarian view of the world, the emphasis is exploitation. If one of the parts of the machine-world is not functioning, the tendency is to replace it. Hence, the natural resources can be exploited for the present, and then later, it can be substituted with technological products and solutions—that is, synthetic materials.
In an organic-relational world, the emphasis is stewardship and loving care of creation. We all came from the dust of the earth. We are one with the creation. We are one humanity! We are all carbon-based material. We are all energized with the same life-energy of the Creator. That is the story of our Being Alive! We are all called by the Creator to be care-takers of Mother Earth!