2021-12-20 GENERAL HOUSE

December 20th – Human Solidarity: A Call to Work Together in Common Cause

In the Millennium Declaration of September 8, 2000, heads of state highlighted, inter alia, solidarity as a value in international relations. They agreed that global challenges should be managed in ways that cost and burden are distributed fairly. Those who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most. In reference to this, the World summit of December 22, 2005, through resolution 60/209, established December 20th as an International Human Solidarity Day, reiterating that solidarity should underlie relations between nations. Since then, this day is commemorated every year, to remind governments to encourage initiatives in the fight against poverty, promote unity in diversity and the culture of cooperation.

Mass protests in developed and developing countries against inequality, poverty, joblessness, injustice, income disparities and lack of opportunities continuously create a vicious cycle of frustration across generations.  The World Social Report, 2020, published by the United Nations (UN) Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) revealed that the income of the richest one per cent of the world’s population continuously increase while the bottom 40% of the world’s population continue to languish in poverty. Average incomes of North American countries are sixteen (16) times higher than those of Sub-Saharan Africa where slow economic growth keeps people trapped in poverty.

The existence of digital technologies makes the world a global village, unfortunately fraternity does not enter the picture. Pope Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Letter, ‘Caritas in Veritate’ laments that, ‘As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers’.  Similarly, in ‘Fratelli Tutti’, Pope Francis regrets that science, technology, medicine, industry, and welfare do not seem to lead to a more humane future, because situations of injustice and lack of equitable distribution of natural resources persist while fraternal values, interculturality, the sense of belonging to a single human family fade, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems utopian.

Beneath the principle of solidarity lies altruism and the recognition of fellow human beings as brothers and sisters. But for many people solidarity is a feeling sympathy for those in distressing situations. Pope John Paul II is not of the same opinion. In his Encyclical Letter ‘Sollicitudo Rei Socialis’, he points out that ‘solidarity is an authentic moral virtue, not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, the good of everyone, because we are responsible for all’. Saint Paul, in Galatians 3:28, reiterates that ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for all are one in Christ Jesus.’ Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 12:26, he continues, ‘If one member suffers, all suffer, and if honored, all rejoice together.’ In this sense, solidarity is a social virtue: a commitment to do good with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to lose oneself for the sake of others.

Finally, the rule of solidarity must permeate the strata of our society and rid it of individualism, self-interest, and the ‘Me first’ attitude to create a sense of hope. In this sense, Pope John Paul II affirms in ‘Sollicitudo Rei Socialis’ that solidarity must be seen above all in its value as a moral virtue that determines the order of institutions. Consequently, he insists that the “structures of sin”, referring to both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism and any other system with their respective visions that dominate relationships between individuals and peoples must be overcome, purified, and transformed into structures of solidarity through the creation or appropriate modification of laws and regulations which govern society.


Br. Francis Lukong – Secretariat of Solidarity


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