Solidarity in today’s world: an empty concept? – Ayla Verstuyft

The name of our project is SOLID A.I.R. The goal of our classes in elementary schools is, essentially, to teach children about cross-cultural solidarity. The concept of solidarity can have different meanings, depending on different contexts. In an emotional sense, it can mean being kind to one another, being emphatic, having compassion, and so on. In a more pragmatic sense, it can also mean respecting human rights and being considerate of other cultures. We try to teach the importance of these values to the children in Bucharest. But do these values even make a difference in the world of today, in which discrimination, antipathy and separation are beginning to form the norm? What does the notion of solidarity still mean in a world full of chaos and negativity?

We live in uncertain times with impending conflicts and the threat of climate change looming over us. People seem to have become significantly less tolerant of one another and it looks like the notion of solidarity went from a fundamental value to an empty concept in our society. However, in a time where violence seems to have the upper hand, solidarity has become more important than ever. Basic human values such as politeness, helpfulness and generosity have an even stronger impact in our world today. We are social beings and collectively, we should combine our strengths in a way that benefits all. Thus, solidarity can be considered the capacity of human beings to perform as a whole in a social group. Solidarity and unity are essential in today’s world because they are the means to empowering each other to achieve our goals together. It is fundamentally what binds our society together, now and in the future.

Solidarity can be a way to building common ground between people and between cultures. Nonetheless, it does not mean that we should inevitably accept every behaviour as appropriate or consider every opinion as valid. Problematic behaviour or beliefs should not be dismissed because they can be allocated to cultural differences. Instead, we should go into conversation, reason with each other and critically try to understand the others point of view. We can respect each other’s differing needs and life circumstances, while still maintaining our own critical thinking. The basis for a solidary world is the interaction between people and their opinions because mutual understanding can only come from discussion. Consequently, it is important to recognise that being in solidarity can take on many different forms and shapes.

In conclusion, acting in solidarity is the power of humanity. The existence of solidarity between each other can be the basis for collaboration and stronger connections between people, cultures and nations. It’s okay to have different opinions, different religions and different point of views, as long as there is a mutual respect between people. We can acknowledge these differences, accept them and stand with other people. We can agree that our world today could use some more solidarity to make some changes for the better. That is why we will continue spreading this message, even if it is only on a small scale to the children in Bucharest.

Written by Ayla Verstuyft – SolidA.I.R. Volunteer 2020

SolidA.I.R. is a A.C.T.O.R. project supported by the programme European Solidarity Corps

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