In atempt to describe what solidarity is different people come up with different definitions, however it has come to my attention that some of them use only words to this end, and their definition is that 'solidarity is acting in favor of another person, without expecting anything in return.'
It may sound unusual to say that people try to define solidarity using only words, and some of you may wonder how we can define solidarity if it is not through words. I believe that mere words do not have the power to show us the true meaning of the idea and phenomenon of solidarity. They simply can not explain nor define true solidarity. Undoubtedly, they do convey the definition - but is true solidarity mere definition or more than that?
What is true solidarity indeed?
Almost five years ago, in May 2014, my home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit by the largest floods since the mid 60s. In some places precipitations were up to 150 liters per square meter. Numerous rivers overflew their banks and flooded towns, villages, agricultural land, and many landslides were activated. Many people lost their lives, while thousands of other people were evacuated from their homes.
No newspapers headlines could have captured the extent of this tragedy - reading about solidarity that people selflessly exercised could not give me an insight into what it meant as only when I saw the magnitude of the disaster and its ensuing consequences I could comprehend it. This disaster got people together – they cleaned the damaged areas and built their houses new or refurbished their flooded apartments. Many of them lost everything they had. The level of solidarity among the citizens proved to be at - all times high. The time of hardship turned to be a true test of solidarity. Of humanity and compassion.
In order to understand why I consider this example of solidarity particularly great, I need to briefly inform you about the system my fellow countrymen live in and how much we are generally divided as a nation. Bosnia and Herzegovina went through a horrible war during 1992 to 1995. After the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in october 1995, people remained divided among themselves on various grounds. Currently, the state has a three-member presidency, our nation is a victim of political manipulation and the system is corrupt on all levels. As as a result people are demotivated and letargic.
The flood was a wake-up call for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a disaster, a neighbor is often physically closer than a relative, and people offered help to each other regardless their ethnical backgrounds. The solidarity they extended prevailed upon their animosity and intolerance.
Another example of a true solidarity in my opinion is the following one: an entire class of the Elementary School "Miroslav Krleža" in Zenica, learned sign language out of solidarity with their hearing and speaking impaired classmate Almin Ramiz. It was their symbolic way of expressing support and showing their humanity and empathy.
The examples of solidarity in my country are numerous, as they are everywhere in the world. I wish for more of them, and not only when it comes to major accidents and disasters. I wish the word 'solidarity' becomes engraved both in our individual and collective identity.
I read once with great dismay that solidarity has become something that has been permanently eradicated because it is incompatible with the capitalist pseudo democracy, given that this system rests on competitiveness and survival of the fittest, some kind of social struggle to live, and death. I must agree that in today's society solidarity is being suppressed because the capitalist system compel people to struggle for existence, focus on material values, and forget that sometimes it is enough to provide little to restore someone's smile.
The happiest people are those who help others and treat them equally regardless of their origin, faith, language and ethnicity. Therefore, I define solidarity as extending support and understanding as well as willingness and readiness to accept people who are different. Solidarity is putting oneself in another person's shoes an lend them a supporting hand, not mere sympathy.