A Christian perspective on solidarity

Z K Pahrii Pou
Introduction: Today, many people are saying, “We have a feeling that something very wrong is going on in our society.” Insecurity grips the heart. We live in a world of sharp contrast –a world of private affluence and public squalor where 20% of world population controls 80% per cent of world’s resources. We live in a world where natural and human-made calamities have intensified. Religious fanaticism and terrorism continues to haunt world’s peace. Materialism grips almost every activity into its fist. Human value is measured in terms of wealth. Honesty, truthfulness and hard work seem to have lost its honourable seat in modern society. The space of individualism grows and the space of solidarity life is shrinking each day. Even God is privatised by religious fanatics creating division in the society. Traditional food system and cultural heritages get dislocated causing identity crisis of million indigenous people. More than anyone, children worry greatly about their future. With invasive invasion of modern technology, human have become partly human being and partly machine. Modernity is unsuccessfully trying to make this world a better place to live in. Life of all forms is threatened in one way or the other. Today’s generation is like what the Judges said: Everyone does as he sees fit (Judges. 21: 25). Where is the solidarity life of God’s good creation? Are we going back to the state of ‘chaos and disorderliness’ of creation? Did not Jesus promise God’s Kingdom here on earth where equality, love and fullness of life will prevail? Should not we, as the bearers of the image of God, fight against those forces that are destroying solidarity life in the world?
With this introduction, this paper begins with what solidarity is and followed by the various probable factors that are responsible for the breaking down of solidarity life. It then goes on to discuss the biblical-theological basis of solidarity and conclusion.
1. Solidarity:
Biblically speaking, the image given by St Paul of the Body of Christ (that we are all individual parts that together make up the Body of Christ) gives us a visual way to think of solidarity life. Solidarity is about valuing our fellow human beings and respecting who they are as individuals.
It is a simple fact that we cannot live and exist well independently of others, we are interdependent beings. Solidarity looks upon this interdependence as something good, something positive, a thing to be cherished. Solidarity “is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”
We are all one family in the world. Building a community that empowers everyone to attain their full potential through respecting each other’s dignity, rights and responsibilities makes the world a better place to live. No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world. We have to offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity. The intense situation of inequality, poverty and injustice, are signs not only of a profound lack of fraternity, but also of the absence of a culture of solidarity.
New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that “throw away” mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered “useless”. For too long the world had being believing the false ideology of ‘survival of the fittest’ that it is almost leading to the total collapse of solidarity life. We need to take care of our neighbours who need our help. Solidarity is simply the demand of fraternity, that we treat each other as brothers and sisters.
2. Some Significant Factors That Destroy Solidarity Life
We are using everything at our disposal as dividing factor and not for uniting factor like modern education, religion, technology, etc. Life does not exist where there is disunity, conflict and loveless society. Life can be fully experienced only when there is solidarity with each other. Some of the factors that need to be tackled to bring solidarity are discussed as follows:
A. Patriarchy: Patriarchy is power struggle starting from one’s own family to the world’s level. It is not confined to man’s control over woman. It is a power structure interwoven with caste and class hierarchical structures, the state, organised religion, leading to violence, colonialism, war and ecological destruction. Hence patriarchy destroys solidarity life of not only men and women but also of different nations and human and nature.
B. Modern Capitalism: Liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation (often known as LPG) are the three pillars of modern capitalism. Modern capitalism rejoices in survival of the fittest. Accumulation of wealth is highly valued. Profit is its aim. Liberalisation means simply free global market and free trade. It destroys the economy of petty traders and small local farmers. Privatisation implies selling or leasing out public goods and services to individuals or private companies. Under this, many states’ owned factories, airport, educational institutions or hospitals are privatised. For instance, we have many hospitals of international standard but poor people find it difficult to afford the facilities. Many small farmers also sold out their land to the rich capitalists. Modern capitalism employs globalisation as a tool of controlling the whole world. It pushes for a homogenous world culture – culture of the minority elite class, in order to control everything. The capitalists being the owner of both capital and land, they also become the owner of production factors (machines and labourers) as well. In capitalism, people do not think about the wellbeing of neighbours. Its main concern is accumulating money and power. In that process of accumulation, violence, exploitation and discrimination became a necessity. Life of solidarity is obstructed and turned the world into a place full of horrors. Blinded by mammon, human had chosen death over life. Even the state acts as crony capitalism neglecting the welfare of common people. Modern capitalism is blamed for creating division in the society, causing worldwide unrest and destroying nature.
C. Modern education: Modern education has become an established norm to think that all education is good and the more one has the better. It is not regarded as a problem although the lack of it is.
‘A child out of school has no chance in the world of tomorrow’ is what become people’s slogan. What is being taught in the school is hardly questioned. Modern education promotes competition as the most desirable value. Analysing our today’s context, it may not be wrong to say that ‘My success is my neighbour’s sorrow’ and vice-versa. It has put every child into ‘pressure cooker’ of competition as both parents and teachers pressurized their ward to compete others at any cost. Competition not only creates insecurity in children’s mind but they also lose their leisure time and refreshing health. Modern education favours individual effort, work and success over team work, solidarity and co-operation. It inculcates individualism. Communitarian life is at its lowest ebb. Individualism is at its highest peak.
Creativity of mind and hand gives way to memorization method of education. According to Ivan Illich, teachers pour expert culture (knowledge) from outside. Those who have better memory power and secure good marks are considered ‘intelligent’. Despite possessing creative minds, those who cannot secure good makes in exams were dropped out as ‘failures’. Once again, the elite culture and survival of the fittest is endorsed by educational institutions.
Prizes are awarded to the so called ‘brilliant students’ who comprised only 1% at the expense of 99%. In many educational institutions, free admission and tuition fees are provided to first class students. Examination marks thus become the deciding factor of one’s status. Giving incentive or awards can lead to rigorous competition of students against each other that can lead to deadly individualism. A society without communitarian spirit is doomed to collapse.
Interestingly, modern education does not even believe quality education as producing responsible individuals in a society. It however considers quality education as a mode of preparing people for high salaried jobs.
Hence, the main focus of education is on imparting academic knowledge, training the students to pass examinations and secure jobs, not on transforming the individual and society. Today we may need to revisit the basic education system envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi as we try to build up solidarity life. (To be contd)
The writer can be reached at zkpahr@gmail.com

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