The goal of our engagement with the vulnerable, oppressed and impoverished is our mutual liberation by way of becoming human.
Problem: The poor and rich, oppressed and oppressor exist in a destructive relationship. Those who use the labour and energies of the poor have lost their humanity by way of exercising violence against their neighbor. Insofar as we use and resent one another we are failing to realise and experience our full humanity. The poor are dehumanised by their relegation to ‘things’ or ‘objects’ by the actions of those in power. Their preferences, needs, wants and opinions are thus not considered as true or valid as someone ‘above’ them.
The Christian must take seriously this existing paradigm and seek to demonstrate a new way of engaging with the oppressed such that both the oppressed and oppressor become more human as a result of the interaction.
One could suggest that this is part of a Christian paradigm of salvation: Jews and Greeks, slaves and free being brought together into the fellowship of the Trinity. It is no coincidence that this kind of mutuality of loving friendship begins to unwind oppressive attitudes and practices. How can we carry on living in our hostile and disconnected state after we have experienced a wonderful new form of human community? We refuse to go back because the new fellowship we have experienced is just far too compelling.
Therefore we love our poor neighbor because in doing so we believe everyone’s future will be free.
This post is brought to you by Paulo Freire.