There are days when it strikes me how long it’s been since those carefree days we had when we were young. Those times when we just spend the day dreaming and wondering, without the need to worry about deadlines and think about relationships. But now, here we are. Trying and struggling, we are overwhelmed with many things to be done and dreams to be attained. But if we pause for a while and consider, can you imagine going through all these life events without finding beautiful souls who you are blessed to call your “friends”? Well, I bet we all face the reality that life is also about finding solidarity with authentic friendships along the way.
“What does it mean to be in solidarity? It means to carry the burden of another person. No one is an island all alone. We are bound to each other even though we do not know it. The landscape binds us, flesh and blood bind us, work and speech bind us. However, we are not always conscious of these bonds. When solidarity is born, this consciousness is awakened, and then speech and word appear – and at that point, something that was hidden becomes manifest. All our bonds become visible. Then one person shoulders the burden of another,” shares Joseph Tischner in his work, “Spirit of Solidarity” from the Solidarity Chapter of the WYA Certified Training Program. Friendship, indeed, is that strong and soulful bond we have with people. Developing that sense of solidarity is built through the trust that we give and receive from them; trust that they will always be there to listen to our stories, share our burdens, and have that significant impact in our lives.
Authentic friendship is the quality of relationship that is present with the people we meet, and whom we choose to have that sincere, open-hearted communication; the source of our greatest joy; and having that mutual understanding even though we have our own imperfections and limitations. Through breakdowns, heartaches and rejections – they will stand by you side, and together learn from your experiences. Through breakthroughs – they will be there for you to make you stronger, and have a significant role in shaping your values and aspirations.
I won’t mind spending all day sharing about how grateful I am for all those best and worst times my friends and I went through together. How we celebrated having our first job, or how any other celebration is made more special with them. How we were there for each other when one is with a broken heart and how simple, warm hugs from them give the calmness and comfort that we need. It’s just so powerful and magical how their presence in our lives make all the difference, that we grow and love ourselves even more because of them. From the smallest things to big life decisions, we know that we will survive through everything with the compassion we receive from our friends.
However, most of the time, we tend to be very busy since school or work requires us to focus and devote our time elsewhere. And so, it oftentimes leads to missed calls, unreplied messages, and long-distance issues with our friends. Catching up seems so difficult that you start to feel the gap and it seems like you are drifting apart. You always miss them, but you think you are leading such different lives. You start getting used to living without each other as well, which will make them think you don’t want them in your life anymore. When that happens, you know that your friendship is tested.
Here, I am reminded of World Youth Alliance’ Solidarity Declaration stating that, “Solidarity is the unified commitment of persons to live and work in the truth of who we are and for the pursuit of the common good. This begins with a fundamental recognition and common understanding of the human person… Solidarity is built on the use of this freedom to willfully recognize fundamental human needs, desires, and rights and to authentically pursue their fulfillment for all persons.”
True friendship is rare to find and so it is important that we make our friends feel secure and that we commit to them. The real love we devote for each other is much more satisfying than any material things, such as money; and the kind of growth that we achieve with them makes our life worth living. To love your friends is also to make sacrifices for them and to strive in achieving that balance to keep them. After all, to build solidarity means a love that fulfills both of your becoming as human beings.
Written by Graciela Ann Awkit, a current WYA Headquarters’ intern from the Philippines.