There are people who believe that the drive to help others who are in difficulty is not generated by any real altruism or generosity, but – on the contrary – only serves to satisfy the personal and selfish need for gratification and fulfilment.
I have reflected on this apparent paradox, because it could objectively conceal an element of truth that is disturbing.
The conclusions I reached left me fairly reassured, as I am convinced that there is a substantial difference between the following two words, which are normally held to be synonymous: charity and solidarity.
Charity is almost always a random, impromptu act, perhaps brought about by the embarrassment and the sense of guilt that one feels when faced with a blatantly uncomfortable situation, to which one responds, undoubtedly in a respectable manner, yet does not ponder over the problem of how and why the situation came to be and, above all, over the dignity of the person who benefits from the charitable gesture.
The concept of solidarity is different. It implies a considered, aware and often structured act of sharing of what one has with a person who finds themselves – perhaps by chance and temporarily – in difficulty. The thing shared is not always and not only material and is not necessarily possessed in abundance. The focus on dignity is crucial and, when possible, tact and discretion too. At the same time, it would also be desirable to strive to remove the causes, which are often social in nature, that led to the situation in the first place. However, in-depth analysis of this topic risks digressing into inappropriate debates, generated by different, albeit legitimate, personal convictions.
That is what I think and what I try to put into practice. This is what I am finding and experiencing at ABF. This is the reason that drives me to be here.