December 20th is World Human Solidarity Day. By solidarity we mean that relationship of brotherhood and mutual assistance that binds the members of a group.
Solidarity also means density of the social dimension. It means such a cohesion that nobody within the group stays “suspended”.
At Protection4Kids this date also has a symbolic meaning! We deeply believe that in order to fulfill the duty of social solidarity, protected by the article 2 of the Constitution, we must act where in fact there is no solidarity at all.
Solidarity means being conscious of belonging to a group which we can think of as a human body.
Where solidarity is lacking a wound takes its place and, in the field of human rights, a wound often means a crime against humanity.
That is why we fight every day online and offline: in order to turn these wounds into scars which, looking back in a few decades, will be “just” a reminder of a wound that we as humanity have self-inflicted.
Let’s start from the beginning: what is solidarity?
According to Treccani Encyclopedia, solidarity is a feeling of brotherhood that grows out of the consciousness about belonging together and out of shared interests and goals. It displays in behaviors of mutual help and altruism.
We can say that solidarity manifests itself both in the particular and the general: in the particular it shows in the awareness of belonging to a well-defined group, for example working class solidarity; in the general it shows as the awareness of belonging to something wider and more universal, such as mankind, meant as a universal brotherhood.
The value of the word “solidarity” can be eminently found it its etymology. The term “solidarity” comes from the Latin term “solidum”, which means “coin” and, in particular, from the Roman law expression “in solidum obligari” (solid bond).
What is it?
It is a bond by which several debtors commit to pay their debts for each other and one for all.
Juridically speaking, in the situation described above, several people would cohesively unite to pay their debts.
This is how, though out of a very practical goal, this first characteristic emerges: the value of social cohesion.
Alone, they would not be able to pay their debts, but together, it becomes much easier.
Even though the solid bond still permeates juridical literature even today, as it is an institution with very strong practical aims, in time, it has acquired several other characteristics as well resulting in it being one of the most noble feelings.
The merit resides in one of the founding fathers of sociology, Durkheim, who bound the concept of solidarity to social cohesion and integration.
Thus, created out of necessity to face practical issues, solidarity today has in itself values related to social and juridical sciences.
Aside from the historical retracing of solidarity, which will probably bore most, what we want to focus on is the definition that a respected journalist and intellectual has given to the term “solidarity”.
Eugenio Scalfari, in his book “In Search of Lost Morality” (“Alla Ricerca della Morale Perduta”), writes that “morality is an instinct”, “The instinct of solidarity that favors the conservation of the species.”
He comes to the conclusion that morality does not come from reason, but from a very powerful instinct: survival.
Gregory Berns, renowned American neuroscientist, reports that fifty chimpanzees that do not know each other, gathered in a place unknown to them, would start to fight resulting in a social explosion, whereas fifty human beings in the same conditions would immediately start to work together to survive.
He was not, however, the first to talk about this. Even Schopenhauer had already found in man a double subjectivity: an individual and egoistic one, regarding oneself, and one relative to the “species” which for example leads parents to sacrifice themselves for their children.
So, what have we concluded?
We can thus affirm that solidarity in man grows like a survival instinct, which has brought us to work together with one another and to be altruists.
The value of social cohesion has not left the world of law indifferent, as with the Romans, who came up with the idea of channeling it in an institution with a very strong practical value,
In the end, it has assumed emotional connotations which often lead us to use this term without deeply understanding its content.
Last but not least, solidarity is nationally and internationally recognized as a binding duty of man, meant as something that exists before the state’s imposition and which states recognize due to the strength of its instinctual nature.
Indeed, we can find solidarity in the 1948 International Declaration of Human Rights as a universally protected value, due to its objectivity. This because an original core of rights, to which a “hard core” of duties corresponds, is linked to human nature and thus is logically pre-imposed to any concrete organization.
We even find it in the article 2 of the Italian Constitution where, among the fundamental rights, it is stated that “the Republic recognizes and guarantees the fundamental rights of man, both as individual and in social groups, where his personality manifests itself, and requires the carrying out of mandatory duties of political, economic and social solidarity.”
But, how does solidarity matter to human rights?
Solidarity thus intensely belongs to the world of human rights as it is their counterpart from the standpoint of values. Indeed, it is hailed as a mandatory duty the fulfillment of which is necessary to the fulfillment of the fundamental rights.
The strength of human rights is to be found right in this little but biting truth: differently from other rights protected by the institution of law, these rights are not something which the state gives us, but rather something which the state recognizes that we have and guarantees us. Thus, they exist before the writing of a law to describe them.
It looks obvious, but for the juridical world it is not! Indeed, we are the owners of the goods we possess only because there is the State which, with article 832 c.c. of the civil code, tells us that we, as owners, can “fully and exclusively enjoy and arrange our belongings.”
Without this law, which gives us this right, we could not have any guarantee if we were to face someone who tries to take away what we possess. Ownership would just be a matter of physical power. In a way, we would not have any right upon some good as there would not be any law that guarantees it.
It is a different matter when talking about human rights. The Declaration does not confer the rights that it proclaims, but rather it recognizes them. It is the philosophy at the basis of natural law. This philosophy maintains that all natural rights are not created by the authors of some code, through laws, but are bound to the dignity of the person. According to this line of thought universal, self-evident rights exist and they prevail over positive (written) law.
Fundamental rights, as opposed to other minor rights protected by the legal system, strongly imply values. They are permeated by values which mostly correspond to morality.
That is why Saint Augustine said that we, as men, have the “moral duty to disobey unjust laws.”
What are these unjust laws?
Unjust laws are those laws that are imposed by an authority from outside, like the State, due to persuasive and deviant political ways, which, in effectively executing them, lead to situations that to the public, who looks at them from a moral point of view, do not seem to correspond to justice.
I am not in any way stating that the laws imposed by the State are all unjust. However, the State is made up of people, and in the legislative area sometimes it is possible to end up making laws that do not fully satisfy the common good, thus looking as unjust to most.
Here the importance of human rights, protected by the Constitution, comes into play. They are needed to filter and critically examine the laws imposed by the authority of the state to avoid situations of injustice which, technically speaking, would lead to situations of legislative unconstitutionality.
But if human rights and solidarity are something that belongs to us as men, why do they need to be written down?
The formal writing of the laws has many limitations but in the case of natural rights, it has great benefits.
It is reassuring to know that there are rights that we, as humans, have and that we all recognize them, but also that there is a document describing them!
It is reassuring, especially in situations of political disorder! Having the certainty that nobody can question these rights, because they are written in a rigid and unmodifiable Constitution, is the greatest gift modernity has given us.
The necessity for human rights to be written down arises from the need to avoid that they be questioned beyond any reasonable doubt.
Fortunately, thanks to the Constitution, human rights are there, and nobody can modify them with a simple law, as had happened in the past.
In the chaos of politics, the Constitution is seen as the beacon that, in the end, shines a light towards more just actions that include solidarity.
The question to be asked now is: why, then, is solidarity lacking from some situations?
To this question, at Protection4Kids we want to reply with action. Solidarity is a right, but above all, it is a duty!
It is in light of this duty that we want to shine our activity. If nobody acts, the cracks forming in humanity will never be repaired. If nobody acts the wounds against human rights that we have self-inflicted throughout the centuries will never heal up.
Then, in our own small way, at Protection4Kids we want to start healing up these cracks and wounds.
There are many organizations that deal with social issues, and that is good, but is not enough! The sooner we start remembering the fundamental rights that belong to us as humans, the sooner we will defeat these “social cancers”. Indeed, only deep and sincere comprehension of human rights will lead us to act justly.
On the 20th of December we will do an online awareness campaign. And what motivates us to do it is just what is written above!
Staying indifferent towards these evils will leave humanity divided and wounded. At Protection4Kids we don’t want our children to grow in this kind of humanity.
Participating in our campaign means believing that what we can achieve is something tangible, while also reminding us of our nature.