If we broaden our understanding of solidarity to extend it to those who need it, we will get more done than alone. Together we are stronger.

Aurélie Wielchuda LGBT, Racism, Women

Solidarity is defined as a “union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes”. To me, solidarity starts when we have empathy for others, when we understand their fights and their point of views and refuse to let them be disadvantaged because of their situation.

In a global crisis such as the one we are experiencing, we tend to be too scared to try and reach out to others and understand their struggles. At a European level this trend has reached a worrying point: far right parties are on the rise and intolerance is growing. Migrants get beaten to death in Greece, Slovakia wants to ensure unequal rights for LGBT people by institutionalizing marriage as solely a union between a man and a woman, Spain tried to forbid women the right to decide over their own bodies, thousands of people demonstrate in Germany against asylum seekers, social benefits are dismantled.

When one feels threatens, it is quite a common tendency to go back to what feels safe and familiar – our peers – and to try and build up a community. Sociology shows that finding a common enemy is the easiest and most efficient group builder of all times. Which explains the success of populist movements all over the continent. But this isn’t the way to go.

You might not be an asylum seeker in Germany, a migrant in Greece, gay in Slovakia or a woman (about everywhere). Chances are however that you are fighting some kind of injustice wherever in the world you are. That you are either confronted by racism, sexism, homophobia, or social injustice. And for that, we should consider all oppressed people as members of our own group and therefore show solidarity.

We need solidarity. Not only because it is considered a good quality or to show people they are not alone in their fights. We need solidarity because it works. When men stood up against rape in India, it got worldwide attention and got the government to search for solutions. The wonderful movie “Pride” showed the importance of miners-LGBT solidarity and its efficiency in the late 80s. Slavery got abolished when white people realized how utterly wrong it was to consider other people property because of their skin colour. All in all, when people started to look at other people in a different way and to understand them.

Which doesn’t undermine the fight of people for their rights or make it less brave and absolutely necessary. But if you go against an oppressing system alone as an underdog, you’ll have a hard time making your voice heard because you are the underdog anyway. When women speak up for their rights, they are hysterical (because that’s how women are, ain’t I right?), when slaves did they lacked discipline and were insubordinate. When workers fight for their rights they are just lazy louts unaware of what “the market” (this new and elusive god we ought to follow) want. And it goes on and on.

If we broaden our understanding of solidarity to extend it to those who need it, we will get more done than alone. Together we are stronger.

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Aurélie Wielchuda

Aurélie is a feminist based in Brussels.

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