“Hello, how are you?”
This is not a question you actually have to answer; a matter somewhat confusing to people unfamiliar with American culture. It’s just how people in the U.S. greet one another; it’s a show of care.
To say nothing implies the opposite. Choosing to greet not only those we know, but those of other cultures and faiths says, “Your life matters to me." Not greeting solidifies the predisposition that you don't matter to me.
three faiths - one greeting
At Church, Christians maintain the ancient greeting, “Peace be with you” – “And also with you,” (eirene in Greek, pax in Latin).
At Synogogue and in Jewish gatherings, one says, “Shalom Aleichem” – “Aleichem Shalom," (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם), meaning “Peace unto you,” – “Unto you, peace.”
At the Mosque and in Muslim communities, “As-salāmu ʿalaykum” – Waʿalaykumu s-salām," (السلام عليكم), meaning “Peace be upon you” – “Upon you, peace.” (Both Shalom and Salaam share Semitic roots.) Give it a go this week; greet a stranger, let them know they matter.
Historically, and still occasionally today, these words were accompanied by open-hands; a gesture, called hamesh in Hebrew and hamsa in Arabic. More than a sign of peace, open-hands signaled that the bearer held no weapons. Long ago, when strangers met upon a path, there was no way to know whether the stranger was going to pull a weapon, rob you, take your life. You had to choose; pull your weapon first or show your hands to demonstrate that, "I mean you no harm; see, no weapon.”
Open hands invited trust.
Open hands said, “Your life matters to me.”
For Christians, sharing “peace” finds roots in Jesus ‘ words (John 20:21).
Jewish tradition draws upon Ruth and Boaz (Talmud, Berachot 54a2).
Muslims know that the Prophet (PBUH) made spreading salaam a part of faith (Al-Bukhaari 12, 28 and 6236).
Shalom, Salaam, Peace convey something akin to the modern exchange, “'Love you,” – “'Love you too;” not as a romantic expression but as a selfless declaration that says,
"You matter to me. And, I choose to trust you. See, open hands."
Who’s talking about this?
Friends in 44 US cities, in Bolivia, Chile, Germany, Egypt, Jordan, and the United Kingdom.
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