As I was about to end my afternoon walk, I noticed the sunset behind the snow covered trees. The smooth, white surface of the frozen sea was a delightful contrast with the shapes of the red clouds in the pink sky. It was too beautiful to leave, my eyes were glued to the red-orange sun. I don’t remember how long I stood there, but decided to start heading back when my face started to hurt because of the cold. It was worth it. I felt grateful to have caught sight of such a unique, sublime beauty.
When I turned my back to the snow covered beach and started walking towards the road, I noticed that my individual, unique experience was actually a shared human condition. People, young and old, standing at different parts of the forest, were all gazing at that divine beauty. Even a dog had joined our silent “sun worship”. I felt humbled. At the sight of this number of unexpected company, I felt a strong sense of connectedness. At that point, all that mattered was this beautiful planet.
To be honest, in Finland I feel close to nature like I never felt before. And no, I don’t mind the cold. If you ask me how much my one year of ESC at an environmental organization has helped mitigate climate change, I don’t know. What I know is, each small action is already a part of the big picture, even when no one is counting. Just like the sun that would set even without me being there to enjoy the sight. Just like someone helping refugees without anyone glorifying their name.
Defining things becomes easier when we think of their opposites, such as peace in chaos, or sunshine in the dark winter of Finland. I think the opposite of solidarity is apathy, nonchalance, saying “I don’t care, go to hell”. But we don’t need to “go to hell”, it is already here when we ignore people and things, and choose not to help one another. It comes to us when we stop appreciating what’s around us. The summer of 2018 saw historical high temperatures all over Europe and the world, and our shield of apathy won’t do any good in protecting us from this kind of “hell”.
Solidarity is the feeling of oneness with things we perceive as separate, and acting for their –thus our- good. The Buddha also talks about acting generously without attaching to the concept of acting generously. Because when we act without attaching to the idea of giving and receiving, both are one. When we generously give back to the society or the nature, we receive "incalculable merits", like the Buddha says. When we step up courageously to do whatever we can to reverse the damage on the environment, we inspire others to act in solidarity, be a nameless hero, go plogging (jogging and picking up trash) or join the demonstrations "Fridays for Future" with students.
A Turkish proverb says “Do a good deed and throw it to the sea, if the fish doesn’t appreciate it, its creator will”. As I was standing in nature, watching the sunset, I felt how generous the nature is and how connected we are. No matter how “different” we might be. And it felt like the fish appreciate our solidarity too, in defense of the nature and climate.