“Solidarity”: an abuse of language… or not!

In recent days, the Calais Jungle has been evacuated, to the relief of many residents. I cannot judge the people concerned: their annoyance seems so legitimate to me when you see the largest slum in France set up close to home, with its procession of nuisances.

What would tend to annoy me on the other hand is that our elected officials are talking about solidarity efforts that we owe to others. However, I have always understood that solidarity is not necessary, but that it is offered freely and above all mutually.

In a machine, we say that two parts are integral when they mutually need the other to function. We say of two partners that they are united, when they choose to assume together the risks associated with a business.

"Solidarity": an abuse of language?

The term "solidarity" is overused. A good example of smoking on this word, it is the tax which one names "ISF": "Tax of Solidarity on the Fortune". Many consider it to be a very illogical tax, since it taxes heritage, regardless of whether this heritage generates an income that at least allows to pay the tax - but this is another subject, do not get lost!

Solidarity implies the notion of aid mutual. However, when one asks one to help the other, there is a priori nothing mutual: there is a transfer of goods from one to support the other. And it is understood that this transfer is final and that the donor will no longer see what he has given. The term "solidarity" is thus used, in this case as in many others, instead of the word "aid".


Unless we missed something. And that, in the term "solidarity", both still have to gain. He who gives can find satisfaction. The Bible says there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Sometimes we all take more joy in giving a gift than in receiving one. That said, anyone who would like to offer me a new car is welcome… I digress again…

In our “solidarity efforts”, we can be content to give just to “help”. And it is already good, much more than a lot.

We can also decide to enter into a real relationship of solidarity, that is to say into a mutual relationship. I help you by giving you what I can give you: my money, my goods, my time, my prayers, my affection, my skills. And you have nothing but yourself. So you're gonna give me something of yourself. You will help me reconnect with my humanity. You will help me refocus on the priorities of life. You will help me to know myself better. You will help me to be a better person. If I agree not to expect an identical counterpart to what I am giving, then yes, even in these imposed pseudo “solidarity efforts”, solidarity exists. And it can even turn to the advantage of someone who, at first reading, had everything to lose.

Pascal Portoukalian

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