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What Solidarity Means To Me: The City of Literature Team

Ruby Tyler
Wed 26 Aug, 2020

We were delighted to launch our new campaign Letters of Solidarity this summer. But what does ‘solidarity’ mean? It’s associated with trade unions and other left and working-class political struggles, but is that the whole picture? The City of Literature Team weighs in…

Richard

The Oxford English Dictionary describes ‘solidarity’ as the ‘fact’ or ‘quality’ on the part of a community of being ‘perfectly united or at one in some respect’. Perfectly united - as anyone who has been in a group of friends, family, at school or in the workplace knows - is a bit of a fantasy, but I love the idea of a group of people being ‘at one’ in some way or another, especially at a moment when people seem so divided. This is what I think about when I hear the word ‘Solidarity’. Not perfectly united, not in harmony on every single thing, but one person - a friend, brother, sister, parent, stranger - saying to another, I’m with you, I’ve got your back, your problem is my problem, and together, we’ll sort it out. It’s about knowing someone is on your side - regardless of all the other difficult things that might be going on. That’s solidarity - a beautiful thing.

Leanne

For me, solidarity means looking after everyone in a community. It means listening to each other, supporting one another, and knowing that ultimately, your community will back you up. It also means having the confidence to challenge each other, talk about our points of disagreement, and work together to find solutions. Solidarity isn’t about agreeing with everything your community says: it’s more about feeling comfortable to discuss difficult problems, knowing that everyone wants to find a way through. For me, discussion, respect, curiosity and compromise are at the heart of what solidarity means.

Emily

Your feeling may not be my feelings. Your life may not be my life. I may not understand your experiences but I know what is right and what is wrong. What is made hard and what is made easy. I know that I love you. I love your differences; your similarities your complete and utter uniqueness and I wish to fight with you and cry with you and break down these built up barriers with you. I want to be equal to you. So, I stand with you. For you make the world so much more beautiful

Ruby

I picture ‘Solidarity’ as a stone wall. While each stone is individually tough, it is relatively small. But, if lots of stones are stacked together with something to bond them, then they can build a wall that is much stronger and bigger than a single stone. In the same way, solidarity is about coming together for a purpose. It’s about being someone that another can rely on – if one stone in a wall falls out, it might cause some damage, after all. In my opinion, we can show solidarity through our actions and words – whether that’s a thoughtful gift during a difficult time, having important discussions, or helping someone else without any benefit to yourself. I think that, ultimately, solidarity is about openly showing your compassion, and proving it.

Sandeep

Solidarity depends on how we come together and be the change. Not to say: “I stand in #solidarity” and to expect in the process to be changed forever, but to actively seek to do it. I’m intentional about my commitments to listen, to learn and to act. That requires me to be the change. I’m willing to give away my power and privilege in order to ensure the wellbeing of others. If these words resonate with you, will you join me? #BeTheChange

Do you want to write a Letter of Solidarity? Find out about the project and how to get involved here.

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