Solidarity Defined

This is part of a study in theological language, the rest of the posts can be found here.

Solidarity is an important word. It seems most often used in liberative circles, however, it seems to be making some headway in circles focused on the church, particularly those who wonder how to be a church that lives the gospel in a disparate world.

Solidarity should not be understood as synonymous with representative government. In fact, in some ways, it is quite the opposite. Instead of someone being for someone else, we should be with each other. Such a shift is very important, ultimately empowering the disenfranchised to raise their own voices and make choices, rather than by proxy.

However, as solidarity is being with, it is important to note that it excludes, for example, some skewed capitalist or marxist vision that glorifies: poverty for the middle class, or the middle class for the poor and rich, or the upper class that calls itself middle class, or the rich who have nothing to do with the poor. This is also not some middle class, “bohemian” bullshit. Nor is it to tell the poor that they must work into the middle class to be recognized. Solidarity calls these notions of class into question.

Solidarity begins with people treating other people, marginalized people or not-so-marginalized people, as people worthy of their created status. Simply, all people are human and should be recognized as such. White flight to the suburbs is not solidarity. A weekly church gathering is hardly solidarity on its own. Nor is ignoring complicity and privilege the way to achieve solidarity. I cannot act like I am someone who did not finish highschool, I have a graduate degree. Albeit I worked hard, but I was lucky that there was no need for me to stop schooling. I can renounce consumerism/materialism/capitalism all I want, but to act like I live the same existence of people without privilege is insulting. Solidarity recognizes that there differences, even some that are beyond our control no matter how much we dislike them, but ultimately those differences should not hinder us from being together. In fact, solidarity seeks to aim those differences to help one another. Solidarity, in a very simple way, is a dispersal of voice, power, and wealth, because control is not sought. Instead, we are given to each other for the needs of each other.

There is social change in solidarity as alluded to above, but it is fundamentally within the context of the basileia — the rule of God on earth, the church. To live in the world and to say class does not matter is naive at best. However, to reject the basileia when it breaks into the world — the church formed so as to live the basileia, to be the mission of God’s Kingdom — as it establishes itself physically, socially and geographically, is likewise naive at best. It is within the rule of God on earth that the class structure is obliterated as we are baptized into the body of Christ. Outside of the rule of God, say, racial profiling on the highway, solidarity also must meet and engage. After all, the gates of hell is not a defensive position for the church.

As such, the being with is by no means a typical, hierarchical “with.” “With people” means to use what we have for people who have had their voices taken away. The voiceless are the ones who lead their struggle, with the help from those who can stand with them. The voiceless don’t need another voice for them, they need to make their own voice heard. Again, solidarity is not about representation for the voiceless. Solidarity is about empowering the voiceless and the voiceless speaking their voice. In presidential speeches we hear about “such and such poor person who had such tragic circumstances and so elect me to help that person by representing them” is not Christian solidarity, that is governmental politics that are predicated on keeping distance between people.

Solidarity is sharing life, and the life of Christ. It is sharing joy and suffering.


6 thoughts on “Solidarity Defined

  1. I was intro’d to this word too thru Gutierrez. It is a great spin on the idea of incarnational / contextual theo..

    recall reading somewhere that you’re from Alaska. Wondering re: your thoughts on the new Rep VP nominee… ;)

  2. I am indeed from Alaska. Lets just say I do not find her impressive in her decisions, or this “reform” they keep speaking of (which is really stretching the word), and if the media does their job, she could bring McCain down, or at least herself. Shes a Christmas present to Obama.

    Still I’m fairly suspicious of the entire process and the nation-state in general. So while I don’t have an optimistic view of Palin, the people I political engage with are the ones who I think matter and/or most interesting, aka Obama.

  3. Rob says:

    As far as the being-with goes– you might find Jean-Luc Nancy’s work interesting. He reinterprets Heidegger’s use of both being-there and being-with (in somewhat Hegelian and deconstructive fashion)…

  4. Pingback: Misguided Ways of Dealing with Race and Racism « flying.farther

  5. Pingback: Pacifism in Light of Freedom, Justice, Solidarity, and Peace « flying.farther

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