Solidarity and the Notion of We
EDIT, Author’s Note: I wrote this a couple months ago and haven’t published it until now. I think it’s worth saying, especially at this time of year.
This is a little off the subject of writing, sort of not, just generally something I’ve noticed. My thoughts.
Today, ten people were shot and killed by a gunman at a college in Kauhajoki, Finland.
When Columbine happened, or Virginia Tech, or the Jonesboro shootings, or the Amish school house, or the shooting in Michigan…the world grieved with America. People heard about it. They were floored. I heard about Virginia Tech even in Poland, had friends approach me, shocked.
Who will grieve for the ten students in Finland? How many Americans will show solidarity? Not many. They don’t notice. They don’t read the international news. Because by and large–and this is a gross generality, mind you–they just don’t care.
Solidarity. The notion that people, crossing whatever boundaries or viewpoints that usually bind them, can show themselves as one people. To stand in defiance of tyranny, to sympathize with those who mourn, to celebrate a breakthrough in science or social systems or sports.
It made me think that America has gotten drastically removed from the concept of “we.” We focus on “I,” we focus on “me.” The only “we” in our mindset is “we” as individuals, not “we” as society, “we” as nation, “we” as human beings.
So much goes on in this world that I truly believe could be combatted with the notion of we. The idea that one helps others not because one is told, but because the others would do the same in your place. My libbie-ness will show when I say that people who make massive salaries would agree to pay higher taxes because if the positions were flipped, those in economic power would do the same for them. I’ll pay for your healthcare because you can’t do it yourself, and because someone will take care of me if I need it.
But it’s not like that. Money is MINE. HIS. HERS. Success is something belonging to one person, or a series of individuals. What baffles me, however, is the idea that we are all interconnected, and the wealthy more than anyone else. Their wealth is literally dependent upon thousands of people who buy their products, work the day-to-day aspects of their businesses, watch their movies, and buy their books. They are the most dependent of all of us…on all of us. And yet somehow, many believe that it is entirely their doing. It’s not.
If I write my books and end up published and famous and rich, I look on it as my responsibility to my country, to the millions (billions) of people on this planet who worked their whole lives and didn’t get rich. Didn’t make it. Responsibility to my family to help them. To my friends and loved ones to make their world safer. To the strangers who may never know me, but who my tax dollars and donations will touch somehow, some way.
Crazy notion, this notion of we. But if we (there’s that word again) ever hope to change this world, it’s one that needs to take root.