Schillebeeeckx notes that without true solidarity the “gospel becomes impossible to believe and understand”[i]. The notion of true solidarity cannot be divorced from contextual solidarity. Our solidarity is not merely some spiritual concept that has no bearing on our real lives. So, in relation to HIV/AIDS Haight reminds us, “Jesus cannot be Christ and salvation cannot be real without having some bearing on this situation”[ii].The Southern African context is not unfamiliar with suffering and solidarity. Albert Nolan wrote during the height of the atrocities of Apartheid in the 1980’s that solidarity with the suffering will be “the new starting point for modern theology and spirituality in most of the Christian world today”[iii].
If we are to hope to correct our abuses of each other and of other races and of our land, and if our effort to correct these abuses is to be more than a political fad that will in the long run be only another form of abuse, then we are going to have to go far beyond public protest and political action. We are going to have to rebuild the substance and the integrity of private life in this country. We are going to have to gather up the fragments of knowledge and responsibility that we have parceled out to the bureaus and the corporations and the specialists, and we are going to have to put those fragments back together again in our own minds and in our families and households and neighborhoods. We need better government, no doubt about it. But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities. We need persons and households that do not have to wait upon organizations, but can make necessary changes in themselves, on their own.
[i] Schillebeeckx, E Jesus: An experiment in Christology. Translated by Hoskings, H. New York: Vintage books 1981:623.
[ii] Haight, R, Jesus symbol of God. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books (1999:26).
[iii] Nolan, A, God in South Africa. Cape Town: David Philiip publishers. (1988:43).