Some have the gift of seeing the big picture, of comprehensive social and political analysis of the structures that frame our opportunities. Others find it easier to relate to the day-to-day practices of compassion, communication, listening, and counseling. Now, more than ever, in the throes of the "new world order," the integration of these diverse gifts will be vital to shaping character and action for a people moving toward shalom, or wholeness.
In the new world order, capitalism is unabashedly confident of its dominance; the people of the Two-thirds World realize that truth much more intensely than we in the industrialized world. The centers of power preach as gospel that the market mechanism is the most efficient means of allocating resources, and the "new wisdom" of the international economic system counsels the liberalization of world trade.
As a result, the political essence of both democracy and the marketplace as we move into the 21st century is the god of Choice, which offers the citizen-consumer the right to reject or adopt options, whether candidates or commodities, politicians or products.
The tragedy is that we in wealthy nations casually accept the foregoing global picture as a "given." The traditions, institutions, values, practical arrangements, regulations, and ideas of our culture all serve as mechanisms to make us believe, even if unconsciously, that our world has either dropped from the heavens or is an inherent consequence of the "laws" of nature. Dominant cultures use every means at their disposal to repress the realization that the world's relations are humanly constructed.