Autumn 2017

Solidarity is the tenderness of the people

Two hands clasped.

There is a beautiful saying from the Sandinistas that
Solidarity is the tenderness of the people
Is that profound human tenderness
Profound because it is simple
Human because it is concrete

Anything that is only an idea or an ideal
Can never even remotely be equated with solidarity
In the face of oppression
In the struggle for liberation
It is the locking of arms
Not the sending of wishes
It is expressed in the smallest of gestures
As well as in the grandest of plans
It is what comes of the interconnectedness of things
The intersectionality of the experience of oppression
The recognition of the dialectic
Such as when the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King was shot
Because he named the connection
The structural and historical knot that ties
Oppressive racism
To capitalism
It being no accident that he was in Memphis at the time of his killing
To support striking garbage workers
Something worth remembering in Australia today
As the lowest paid in society
Whether they are in the labour market
On its insecure margins
Or completely excluded from it
Are attacked and punished
Sacrificed on the altar of greater pro ts and lower corporate taxes

His stance beside them
Was also a recognition of another foundational principle of solidarity
That solidarity might produce heroes
But it is never individualistic
It is deeply collective

It is a privilege
Not a favour
To stand in solidarity with
People experiencing oppression
If we commit ourselves to the struggle for liberation
Then we take our orders from the
The word obedience
Comes from the Latin word meaning
To listen to
Means studying reality
The concrete study of the concrete situation
Cutting through the lies
For the truth told by the people pushed to the margins
In the end
Drown out the lies
Told about them

When I type out the word solidarity I mistakenly type
I like this typo
Because it reminds me that solidarity Is about the common ground
That must be fought for
Against the commodi cation of everything
And everyone
That human solidarity cannot be disconnected from
The environment in which we live That we are all made from the most magnificent and magical dust
And that the socially constructed hierarchies
Of power and wealth
Are just that
Produced by socio-economic formations Not nature
And that just as they are made
They can and must
Be unmade
And that the real power for progressive social change
Comes not from above
But from the People
Under the guiding stars of struggle and hope

The feminist movement teaches us that
The personal is political

The refusal to take the side of the oppressed
Is the acquiescence to being taken by the side of the oppressor
As the poet and theorist Audre Lorde reminds us:

The true focus of revolutionary change
Is never merely the oppressive situations We need to escape
But that piece of the oppressor
Which is planted deep within each of us

I will leave you with the most beautiful description of solidarity that I know
Which comes from Aunty Lilla Watson
And a group of First Nations activists in
Queensland in the 1970s

If you have come to help me you are wasting your time
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine
Then let us work together.

Dr John Falzon

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