Reduced inequalitiesOpen the SDG in Presentation mode
Biblical reflectionThe prophet Amos was active in Israel around years 750 before Christ. This was a time when the country, also called the northern kingdom, experienced relative peace and prosperity thanks to both military and economic success. The wealth, however, was not accessible for all; the powerful elite increased their wealth at the cost of the poor. This is how Amos describes the life of the rich: “Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall” (Amos 6:4). The fact is that their wealth is based on injustice and abuse of power; they “oppress the poor” and “crush the needy” (Amos 4:1). They conduct dishonest trade and force the poor into economic slavery (Amos 8:4–6). Experience shows that economic growth often brings with it increasing inequalities, among individuals and groups. Economic inequalities lead to corresponding social differences, evaluating people according to what they possess and consume. In Amos’ view, a welfare based on inequality and abuse of power is not sustainable, and it is subject to God’s judgment and doomed to fail. There is, however, an alternative: “Seek good and not evil, that you may live!” Amos announces. And he adds: “Establish justice in the gate!” (Amos 5:14–15). Equality presupposes goodness and equal relations; sustainability in addition demands justice and peace, not at least in economy and politics.
- What problems does rising inequality create in relation to sustainable development?
- The Old Testament prophets criticised the elite of that time for building their wealth on injustices and abuse of power. Is that a relevant issue in our time?
Which actors in your local community help to reduce the economic inequalities between citizens? Can you do anything to strengthen this work?
Is there anything you can do to put inequality (locally, nationally or internationally) on the political agenda?
Lord Jesus Christ, you do not discriminate between people, Make us more like you. Grant us wisdom and the will to share. Let greed be lost to justice, And give us the courage to accept one another across our divides. We commit everything and everyone, into your hands, Lord. Amen.