If taken seriously, these beliefs have radical implications for the way I think about my life and how I relate to others. If I truly believe in and seek to imitate the unconditional love of God, I can no longer relate to my fellow beings as means to an end. I can no longer see my fellow creatures in utilitarian terms, as if they existed in order to benefit me. If I am to see through the eyes of God, I must regard each person as a masterpiece work of art, and a beloved friend.
This is not surprising. For a very long time, human society has been headed on a trajectory away from the cohesion of love and towards a worship of the “useful.” Human communities have become atomized, with each individual pushed in a myriad of ways to put themselves first. Other groups and other people are seen in terms of the economic and social benefits that can be extracted from them. The ancient practice of chattel slavery, elevated to a global scale during the European colonization of the Americas, is the prime example of this trend. A slave is an individual who has been completely removed from all human community and who, as a result, becomes an object – property of other human beings.
I believe that if we want to discover real freedom, we need to reexamine our ideas about value altogether. What is the source of our worth as human beings? What is our purpose in this life? Is it to generate profits for the powerful people and institutions that govern our world? Is it to drive the engines of economic growth and technological progress? Or were we created for something far more sublime? Can we imagine the possibility that our value is more akin to a beautiful painting by Monet, rather than to the value of pig iron or a photocopier? Are we able to accept our own unconditional beauty and worth, as children of God?