The year has started off with a great theme: Solidarity. Each month in our meetups, we discuss one topic all around the world. You have not seen your city on the list of our meetups? Contact us and start a Philia Community where you live.
The Philia Participants discussed the power of community and the importance of surrounding ourselves with good people, who are open and free of judgement. The prerequisite for this is to accept our own and other people’s vulnerability.
Here is what we learned:
Your solidarity should start with yourself! Self-love helps us practice solidarity with others. From there we can be a role model and show others how to stand up for themselves, too. Many discussions would not even be necessary if people would love themselves fully.
Love is a really radical idea. We are so used to conflict and division that really loving others that are not part of our group might seem very radical. Solidarity does not have to inclusively be with like-minded women. We have to accept the diversity of opinions and still be there for each other even if we are different.
Solidarity at the Workplace
A theme that came up in more than one meetup discussions is that it’s difficult to show solidarity in professional contexts. Many people are afraid to step up for others in the workplace or other business situations out of fear for negative consequences for their own career. Especially speaking up to senior managers and c-suite is often hard. But speaking up for other people and showing solidarity with women, minorities and coworkers in lower positions can create a positive work environment for everyone. Further, asking for help can show our vulnerability and this can be challenging, especially in the workplace. Though, what can be seen as a weakness can also result in learning something new. In this safe space of solidarity and reciprocity, I help you this time and you will help me next time. You can start with a small change to show your support. We should be happy for each other’s’ growth whether professionally in an organization or in our personal lives. You start from small. Sharing an opportunity with a circle which is a practical example of support. Offering a helping hand no matter how small the help be either you are offering or receiving is called support.
Asking for help does not make us less independent. Fearing to come off as needy or co-depend can be an important factor nowadays; especially for women that prevents us from asking for solidarity. A lot of women are working hard to do it all and to be independent. Yet, showing that we don’t know it all creates a basis for better understanding. It all creates transparency and authenticity and a basis for everyone in the community to better understand each other. What we need from society is curiosity. People are always afraid of asking the “stupid” questions and hence miss out on needed discussions to learn. We want a society that is curious, asks about everything and learn from that.
Solidarity in Society
Joining an existing community is much easier than building a new one. Community building takes a lot of time and effort and a strong belief in the cause of why we want to build a new community. Communities that already exist are easier to join, yet might bear some values within them we cannot shape or do not entirely agree with.
The community we chose shapes our identity. Our identity gets shaped by the communities we are part of. If we have a choice it is important to be very aware of choosing the communities that we want to be part of wisely. As parents when we think about what we need from the community we should look at these different sides from our children’s perspectives and ask if that is the community that we want for them.
We need spaces that allow for authenticity. Belonging to a community comes with a trade-off. Fearing we might become a cast out we might behave differently from our true nature. We might even start lying to ourselves, which hinders our true authenticity. In some communities, we might feel as if we do not have space to truly be yourself and still be accepted in society. We want a community that provides spaces for everybody in society to be their authentic self and have spaces that accept them as they are.
Solidarity and Empowerment
It is important to collectively stand up against systems of oppression. Solidarity is when we come together to make a change in the society that we live in. True power lies in coming together to challenge anything that is unfair. This is how we can create new systems. Globally, we all fight for the same cause, women empowerment. The support should not be based on personal interests and emotions or inside our close circles. Our process of solidarity should include everyone. So no one feels separated (even men). Yet, equality should be a mutual process. It should be a priority for the men in society to back up women and stand with them in their decisions as individuals if we are trying to build a more gender-balanced community.
Solidarity is based on listening actively and selflessly. Solidarity and speaking up for other people should always happen in their interest and not your own. When people share their problems with you make sure you listen actively and propose solutions that fit their personal needs and situations and not your own experience since everyone thinks and feels differently. Try to see the world through their eyes. Give support and solidarity without expecting anything in return from the other person.
When shining a spotlight on the topic of solidarity the topic of guilt might come up and with it many negative emotions. There are many reasons why someone may feel guilty. One example that came up was that having an advantage in contrast to others that could fuel guilt. So, to get through the guilt we need to sit with it. Guilt is hard to sit with yet it is the only way to unify divided societies.
Solidarity is free of judgment. A solidarity movement that won’t vilify dominant groups (like men) or groups with privilege ensures that they can be part of the conversation and the dialogue.
Last but not least:
In that ideal world, you wouldn’t need solidarity because all people have them. If the world was ideal we wouldn’t have the need for only certain people to come together to stand against something or to provide support towards a certain injustice because we will all be standing together.
A huge thank you to our Philia Ambassadors last month Paula, Jana, Stella, Marielle, Suraya, Grace, Nargis, Iman, Nuha and Aleksandra.