Of course, it’s hard to know what solidarity is until you experience it.
In 2017, I learned first-hand what solidarity was all about. I learned how strong a word it could it be and also how tender and sweet.
I happened to be in Mexico on September 19 when an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.1 struck 55 km south of the city of Puebla. The ground violently shook for 20 seconds causing massive damage in the Mexican states of Puebla and Morelos and the Greater Mexico City area, including the collapse of more than 40 buildings. In the end, over 370 people were killed by the earthquake, and more than 6,000 injured.
In twenty seconds, a country was more than shaken, they were stunned, traumatized, and for a moment, defeated. And, then, slowly, they rose up and came together — joining hands and hearts in true solidarity. Everywhere you looked, families were helping other families, strangers coming together to tend the injured and the homeless. To dig through the rubble, to care for lost animals, to bring console and comfort where it was needed. On every corner, there was a different story.
I will never forget listening to one woman whose kids had asked not to go to school that day. The woman agreed, and they stayed home. Later that day, their building collapsed, and both kids died. While her heart was filled with sorrow, she didn’t allow the guilt to take over or play the victim, especially when there were so many others who needed her help. Instead, she went out and cared for those who needed it.
It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy to bring out the best in us; that it takes deep pain and sorrow for us to see beyond our politics, religion, or the color of our skin. To know that we are all part of the same family — the same fabric of the universe.
December 20 is International Human Solidarity Day. It is a day that was set up in 2005 by the United Nations with the bold objective to eradicate poverty and promote human and social developments in developing countries. Solidarity is a powerful word that brings up images of nations standing together in times of great sorrow, tragedy, and hardship.
Take this day to remind yourself that it doesn’t have to take a tragedy to reach out our hand to others, to stand up beside one another, for one another, locking arms together, as a sign of the power of love.
This is what solidarity is all about — coming together with love so that we may help each other.