​When I feel your needs as mine, do I feel solidarity?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

We tend to feel united in the face of great catastrophes, accidents, acts of violence or the extreme needs of others.  In these situations we set our differences aside and, then, we act to alleviate the suffering of others.  What happens?  We tend to feel that such a thing could happen to us too.  And it is not that we consider it deeply, just that we feel impelled to act.  What else may happen?  That I overlook whether those people think the same way as me or whether they have the same beliefs as me, or whether they have the same customs or the same world view.  We just feel that they are human beings in danger and that it could happen to anyone.  Could we benefit by learning something from this phenomenon that happens to us automatically?  Do you think that you could always live with that kind of open attitude?  Could you feel that people who think, act, believe or have opinions or traditions that are different from yours are really like you?

Yes you can, although it may require a bit of attention, since as soon as we revert to an automatic egocentric mode of behaviour, we become distracted, we put up new defensive barriers and the concept of mine and yours quickly returns.  Me first, ahead of those who are not like me.  In fact, we are all what we are by chance. 

We were born by chance in a place with certain traditions and circumstances that I absorbed, because I was there and not somewhere else.  Is that sufficient to believe that fundamentally I am different and better than others?

In fact, I have not chosen any of this, I have just lived where life has put me.

I suggest that you consider the chance nature of your own life.

It may be that you have had a hard life or a privileged life, but it has not been your choice.  What I can choose is the attitude with which I live my life, whether it is hard or privileged.

That is my choice.