Meaning of Solidarity

By Fr. Dan Borlik 
Source: Public Domain

Words can empower us?  Even show us the way…Right?

Solidarity is one of those words.  A little strange at first, perhaps, but it can grow on you!   I suppose that most of us now can use the word “solidarity” well enough.  But I have come to understand solidarity as a journey, a kind of “growing outwards.”  

Let me explain.  There are stages here. Faced with so much pain around us, near and far away, we start learning solidarity first by rejecting any instinct towards hatred, then moving beyond indifference. At least by then we can begin to see, to notice another’s pain. I believe that solidarity must then grow more personal, interior:  a deeply felt sympathy, a sharing of pain or distress at hearing of another’s pain, rejection or misfortune, be it due to hurricanes or flooding, gun violence or rejection by others because of their “differences.”

Still, sympathy is not solidarity.  Not yet. Once we can acknowledge that “they” are also “we,” that change in us demands more than pity and respectful language, more even than earnest prayer.  We may have to struggle to leave behind suspicions, naturally strong fixations with myself, my clique or my tribe, but we can learn Solidarity is action: Reaching out to others in need, who now we are learning to call sisters, brothers … my family.  Because all of this is about respect as well, we and the organizations we are members of, want to be careful to “work with” our brothers and sisters in need, rather than “do for” whenever possible.