Solidarity, in my opinion: A constantly developing perspective


Before entering the religious life I was already involved in the people’s struggle and almost always, the use of the term “solidarity” was as rampant as “imperialism”, “capitalism”, or other such similar words.

I have always understood solidarity to mean as being one with the struggle of the people – be they the struggle for land, for justice, for equality, for better education, or for better work conditions.

Any form of sacrifice on my part, as long as it has something to do with the people’s struggle, was a form of solidarity, and anyone who could sacrifice whatever resource they may have, be it time or money, is also a form of solidarity.

When I entered religious life, this definition of solidarity was reaffirmed. My immersions with the various sectors, namely, the Manobo tribe in San Luis, Agusan del Sur; the laid off palm oil workers of Mate, in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur; and the rice farmers of Wasian, Rosario, Agusan del Sur were all a form of the Order, not just us, being in solidarity with these sectors. To be with them, to listen to their plight, to join in their celebrations, is to be one with them. To make them our family is, for me, to be in solidarity with them. Because after all, I always believed that their struggle is our struggle, their problems will eventually end up to be ours. 

On taking the course, the Theology of Solidarity, I came to realize that solidarity is not just a simple word to refer to sympathizing with the marginalized sectors, rather it is a complex word that is still be given a definite definition.

The term solidarity actually has its origins in the church and this was better defined by Pope St. John Paul II who has elevated the importance of the term to mean as a Christian alternative to the prevailing conflicting economic systems of the time – capitalism on the one hand, and communism on the other. The interest of the individual at the expense of the majority, or the interest of the many at the expense of the individual?

Solidarity seeks the middle ground and that is for each person to be his/her brother/sister’s keeper, that is to watch over the interest of the community without having to lose one’s identity in the process, or sacrificing one’s individual desires.

This definition of solidarity has truly captured my whim, because this is exactly what I have been searching for. I have always asked myself, can we not be more human by living a life of sharing and concern for others? Do we have to be like machines that live at the behest of the hive, in the process losing our identity? Or do we have to live in utmost selfishness, one’s family self coming first over and above the rest of humanity? Of course the latter is a total no, no, but there could be an alternative to the hive-mentality, and this is exactly it. Solidarity.

So, now, what does solidarity mean for me? It is to be more Christian as only Christ can be, to be more human as only God can be. It is to live for one’s neighbor. It is to live for the other without having to deny one’s individuality.


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