As followers of Jesus we desire shalom for all. Encountering poverty, we feel a call to act. What can be done so that people are not living below the poverty line? That is an important question, but that is not the only line that matters. Just as crucial in shalom seeking is lessening the gap between the haves and the have nots.
Conventional wisdom might be that the richer a nation the greater the level of well-being would be, but that is not always the case.
Researchers combined various measures of well-being, such as life expectancy, literacy, infant mortality, incarceration, mental illness, addiction, social mobility, obesity and homicides, and found that, amongst developed nations the ones with the highest level of well-being were those with the lowest levels of economic inequality between the richest 20% and the poorest 20%, and those with the worst levels of well-being were those with the highest levels of economic inequality.
And it is not just the poor that suffer the negative impact of inequality—all across the income spectrum people experience less shalom in societies with high inequality. I explore all of this in more detail in a blog—including how greater experience of status competition and shame are part of the reason for the decreased indices of well-being in high in-equality societies.
The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger By Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett
This book demonstrates that amongst developed nations the ones with the highest level of well-being are not the richest ones, but those with the lowest levels of economic inequality between the richest 20% and the poorest 20%. And those with the worst levels of well-being were not the poorest but those with the highest levels of economic inequality. The book, unlike the Ted Talk, also explores why—what it is about inequality that fuels greater suffering by all.
Undoing Damage of the Inequality Gap Through Kinship
With as the inequality gap grows, social evaluative anxieties and shame grow with it. Father Boyle talks as powerfully, and engagingly, as anyone I have heard on the power of kinship to dismantle shame and disgrace. Listen to this Ted Talk or this On Being interview and allow him to feed your imagination of how we can undo damage of the inequality gap through kinship.
by Mark Baker
This short video recounts how Jacobo’s passion to follow God’s call for justice in Isaiah 58 led to surprising changes in his factory—surprising to Jacobo in the way honor and dignity played a key role, and surprising to the skeptical factory owner that profit sharing actually lead to increased profits.
AN ECONOMY FOR THE 1% How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped.
An Oxfam report (Jan. 2016) that addresses the inequality issue globally.
This website, by an organization that Nathan partners with, gives brief explanations of various features of employee co-ops and employee stock owned businesses, and a wealth of information through the FAQ’s section.
A rich trove of resources on themes related to
the inequality theme and alternative models of businesses.
Work of Our Hands: Faith Rooted Approaches to Job-Creation, Training, or Placement in a Context of Concentrated Poverty. Randy White, Editor
This book, edited by the director the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary’s Center for Community Transformation, gives many examples of churches, non-profits and businesses doing what the subtitle of the book states. It includes numerous tips and lessons learned and will introduce you to some business owners who have some of the values described in the above blog.