In Search of Solidarity

by Ashley Ferguson | January 17, 2012 3:20 am

Something seems to be missing these days in America, and it’s the spirit of solidarity. It seems like we’ve been a country of “what’s in it for me” for a long, long time.The lack of solidarity in this country was evident to me when I attended Tavis Smiley’s Remaking America “From Poverty to Prosperity” discussion in Washington, D.C., recently. Panelists included Princeton University professor and author Cornel West, personal finance guru Suze Orman and filmmaker Michael Moore.

The focus was on the “new poor” and the discussion was sobering as panelists dove into how millions of Americans are grappling to survive this terrible economy. There was a lot of talk about how the wealthiest 1% of Americans have used their money to influence political decisions in their favor; how politicians cater to the wealthy and ignore the 99%; how major banks have ignored pleas to help families reduce their mortgage costs so they can stay in their homes; and how corporations have put profits over people and moved jobs abroad to make more money while leaving Americans without jobs of problems are people facing. .

I walked out of the auditorium thinking: What do we do now? Where is the solidarity in this country that inspires us to rise up and do something about the new poor?

This nation has been shaped by solidarity. We have seen how solidarity changed Jim Crow laws in the South, we have seen how solidarity benefited the women’s rights movement.

So why is there such a lack of solidarity in this country today? Why have people just stood by and watched as their neighbor’s house was foreclosed on? Why haven’t we stood up to politicians to tell them to stop catering to corporations that are destroying people’s lives? Why have we let the wealthiest 1% get their way? Why haven’t we harnessed the power of our collective voices?

There are glimmers of solidarity in the Occupy movement, in Wisconsin’s union battles, in Ohio’s workers’ rights fights, and in the continuing struggle to protect our safety netsBut more Americans must realize that fighting together, in solidarity, is the way to get our country back on track again. It’s time to end the “what’s in it for me” way of thinking.

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