Solidarity lately came closer to the spotlight; there were more and more solidarity projects and during this pandemic and quarantine times, we were almost all reminded about its importance. Referring to recent circumstances caused by COVID-19 I must admit I was disappointed with the wide use of the term social distancing. Maybe some would say it is not that important, but I do think language has great importance to our thoughts and the way we are using it affects a lot our thinking. Social distancing does not just send the wrong message but also contributes to social isolation, which is dangerous, it can alienate people more and induce many other consequences. But we should be aware that it is the virus we should be distant from, not people. Therefore, I was happy to see many people, organizations, and associations pointing to the difference between social and physical distancing and sharing ideas of solidarity, selflessly responding to societal challenges.
Even though we were also reminded of the importance of the environment and art since it was impossible to survive those quarantine days without a book, music, movie, walks in the forest or similar, artists around the world were left behind in a very difficult position being neglected by official policies which showed once again unstable conditions artist and cultural practitioners are facing. Many others felt let down as well by different systems, institutions, countries which are criticized for slow and inadequate response to the crisis, noted as unable to deal with it. On the other hand there were numerous alternative networks, self-initiated actions and mutual support groups created. Seemed that people-to-people solidarity has flourished and once again confirmed as a valuable resource we have.
As much as I want to see those nice examples, we cannot be blind to the fact how many dark things this situation brought: politicians with their discriminatory, nationalistic and even racist statements were contributing to deepening the gap and inequality into societies and those generally on the margins of our societies have remained forgotten and again completely invisible.
Solidarity was put on a test. Therefore, I would like to invite us all, as individuals, organizations, communities, companies, countries, networks to reflect on and question our intentions and rethink our values. Is solidarity recreational? How strongly it is rooted in terms of attitudes and practices? Is this situation teaching us the core value of solidarity, or solidarity actions are just something we do in a crisis, as a reaction to it?
Are we able to maintain solidarity sustainable?