Radboud Centrum Sociale Wetenschappen

Opleiders in Mens en Maatschappij

On Solidarity

When Lynn Zebeda and Duncan Green compared notes in preparing their keynotes for AMID’s lustrum celebration, they needed only a minute to find what bound their stories together: the idea of solidarity. Here are Lynn’s reflections.

Solidarity – a word that in my mind forms in smoke letters, circling up from the cigar of a Cuban revolutionary in the 1960s.

It is also our ticket to the 2060s, if we aim to arrive there in one piece.

Let’s pick apart this solidarity word for a second. The dictionary says it means, *clearing throat*, ‘the fellowship that arises from common responsibilities and interests’. 

It’s clear that as a global community, we have common responsibilities and interests. Our responsibility is to protect our commons – air, ocean, water, climate, soil, rights of humans and other forms of life. Our interest is that the planet we belong to still wants us on it. 

But the more fellowship we need, the more divided we seem to become. The extreme right is finding fertile ground. Racism costs tears and lives. Money fools us into believing that those who have it, deserve more than those who don’t. We seem absorbed by our own toxic fabrications, while our shared responsibilities and interests lie await.

Are we so afraid to lose, that we got lost?

I see a softer path, starting with a subtle shift inside ourselves. Softness of the revolutionary type. What would happen if you, inside yourself, are able to consistently choose openness, trust and kindheartedness? If you would weigh fellowship and responsibility in your daily decision making? Whenever I manage to do that, I notice it becomes contagious. People start doing it back.

With such a shift towards solidarity, I believe that some of the systems that we experience as hard as stone, would start to unravel. Because they feed purely off of competition, fear and strife. Put simply, unhealthy competition will lead us further on our immature path of destruction and exploitation, until there is little left to compete for. An attitude of solidarity would help open new mental windows, behind which may lie a more realistic path. It might help us uncover basic truths – that separation is an illusion, that a life well lived honors that of others, and that we’re all in this together.


P.S. Maya Angelou said it so well:

From “A Brave and Startling Truth

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet 
Whose hands can strike with such abandon 
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living 
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness 
That the haughty neck is happy to bow 
And the proud back is glad to bend 
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines 

When we come to it 
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body 
Created on this earth, of this earth 
Have the power to fashion for this earth 
A climate where every man and every woman 
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety 
Without crippling fear 

When we come to it 
We must confess that we are the possible 
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world 
That is when, and only when 
We come to it