In my decade-long exploration of the motivations of service, I have found several different keys to understanding why people help people. One of the pinnacle reasons is solidarity. For several years I have struggled to explain the premise of solidarity, because being too basic under-emphasizes the extreme nature of solidarity. It’s deep, man! What I’ve come to say is that solidarity is the completely mutual, completely holistic sharing of benefits and struggles between people for the purpose of mutually benefiting everyone involved.
I first understood solidarity at the insistence of a best friend and colleague named Heather Manchester. Heather, who has long been involved in the struggle for youth power, has long cited Ecuadorian author Eduardo Galeano, who once wrote that, “Unlike solidarity, which is horizontal and takes place between equals, charity is top-down, humiliating those who receive it and never challenging the implicit power relations.” This juxtaposition helped me “get” solidarity, and since I first began reflecting on it ten years ago, I’ve come to understand it much better.
Today I was listen to John Legend and The Roots play Marvin Gaye’s beautiful classic, “Wholy Holy,” and with his lyric I came to understand a new definition of solidarity, one that I can readily wrap my heart and arms around: Solidarity is living in each others’ dreams.
This is the pinnacle of youth/adult partnerships.