So I arrived in Bogota at 03.00. The first thing I noticed was what nice airport was and how many airline pass through Bogota. The second thing I noticed, well actually the second, third and fourth third thing I noticed was the difference in height between the service personnel–those cleaning or pushing wheelchairs– and the passengers and even the people serving in the shops were. In fact all the steward and stewardesses were far taller…and whiter!
Across the world visual indicators of wealth or poverty and common and I suspect a person with money is unlikely to wear a shell suit. Whereas Barbours are really seen council estates.
I have made these rather superficial remark to highlight, what I believe to be an important issue when thinking about what shalom means in different contexts. The causes and indicators of poverty are complex and very slippery; I.e. In one context poor can mean one thing and in another context another.
I once asked a young pastor from Northern Argentina if he felt poor. He was rather taken aback and suspect more than a little offended! He most certainly didn’t feel poor and produced a Bible bag. As I didn’t have one and only the very poor can’t afford Bible bags!
I think at global level our analysis of the context and what indicates and produces poverty must be accurate and more than superficial observation.