What do unicorns, tuberculosis, dust and crime have in common?
Not only are they various topics I've discussed in my three classes in the past week, but each time we discussed them it was in reference to humanity and solidarity. Social solidarity, a term made famous by Emile Durkheim, is what ties us together. Crime, for example, can bring a community together as they work on preventative measures or deal with a crime that has already occurred.
Catholic social teaching values solidarity with the less fortunate. In Dr. Paul Farmer's experiences, he practices pragmatic solidarity as he treats tuberculosis in Haiti and Peru (among other places. I'm only halfway done, so we'll see where else he ends up). This means eating the same foods as his patients are eating, sleeping on concrete floors or in a dentist's chair at a village clinic, and in general living how poor people live. (I might be talking about this book for a while. Why did no one teach us about Dr. Farmer and Company in elementary or middle or high school? His story is one all Americans/citizens of the world should be familiar with!)
A while back I posted a question about sympathy/empathy here and I think talking about solidarity so much in my classes emphasized the fact that I'm not the only one who needs a common experience, something about being human, to help me relate to others. This also relates to my post about Blade Runner, here, where I discussed Rachael's humanity. Adding to that, Deckard, who is supposed to be the one human audiences can relate with, ends up acting more replicant-like than any of the replicants. Director Ridley Scott apparently wanted his audience to think Deckard isn't human, by showing us that origami unicorn at the end. Is Deckard the only human or the only replicant? Or is Rachael the unicorn, the solitary figure?
Today of all days lends itself to the discussion of human experience: Ash Wednesday. Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. One thing all of humanity shares, disregarding race, gender, class, age, interests, emotions, health, creed, you name it--is death. I believe we share a lot more than the common experience of decomposing, though it is important to remember. Maybe that's why I've always enjoyed Ash Wednesday, the black crosses in the name of solidarity. You might be an athlete, live in a different hemisphere, listen to opera music, hate chocolate cake, or any number of odd things, but we both look like fools with ashes smudged on our foreheads.