Moving toward solidarity

“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!
Sithi uhm ingonyama.”

Zeb loves the opening lines of The Lion King. I love his repeated chorus. He’s coloring my first weeks at QC Family Tree perfectly.

As the next few lines of the song play in my head—There is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done—I know the words are true. But I’m learning that God is densely in the midst of all the seeing and doing.

I’m amazed and overwhelmed by this QC Family Tree story that I get to be a part of. Usually I don’t notice how much there is to do until I’ve dug into the work for about a month. But these first days of orientation have been good, thorough ones. We hosted a group for a couple days, had the back-to-school community meal, got introduced to the church, took a walk around the neighborhood, had devos, traveled to Raleigh for a day in the week of moral marching, and divided up some work for the next few weeks of sabbatical time. Greg and Helms have an amazing Enderly Park story going on. They’ve brought us into this story, guided us into some daily faith practices and pointed out the injustices that they see. There is a lot to do.

In her book Solidarity Ethics, Rebecca Todd Peters explains that “in today’s world many of the people who are poor, marginalized, or abused by the economic and environmental excesses of neoliberal globalization do not need charity—what they need is justice. While there is certainly a place for the work of charity, an ethic of solidarity focuses on the essential work of social justice as a necessary factor in changing the direction of our world toward a more just and peaceful community.” Justice is a mighty big goal to hope to accomplish. She tells us, though, that solidarity is a big enough response.

Until a few weeks ago I didn’t realize how demanding solidarity is. I didn’t know my hope to be a person committed to a life marked by solidarity ever truly affected the coffee I choose to drink or the way I get rid of things I’ve used up or the songs that fill my head. But I moved into the Family Tree, into a lifestyle that affects every inch of my daily movements, and now solidarity doesn’t seem to be fully realized any other way. Rebecca Todd Peters is right. Because environmental, social and political systems impact all of our lives, an ethic of solidarity requires that we be mindful of how we play into any oppressive system. As co-carriers of the pains and struggles of those to whom we tie ourselves, we cannot keep from recognizing how every single one of our movements impacts our neighbors.

With eyes poised to recognize inequality and arms ready to carry the burden themselves, any given day can seem too overwhelming to manage. And even when our prayer book guides us to ask God to break our hearts for what breaks God’s, we know that our best response is already seeping into all aspects of our lives. Solidarity guides us slowly through one choice at a time, one relationship at a time, and the fun part is that it turns out to be our own salvation we’re discovering.

Lesley-Ann Hix