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Unconditional Solidarity in Crisis

There is no doubt that the Earth’s systems and beings are in crisis. Humans can respond to this by withdrawing into themselves and by hunkering down to guard resources and protect themselves and those close to them. But there is another way. Solutions can come from recognizing that we are all interconnected in beauty and worth, and that it matters when another being suffers! Embracing that reality means embracing a sense of solidarity with all life on this planet.

Writing the book “Prion” was a way for me to share a vision of solidarity in story form and show how people might come together in crisis and sorrow. I even imagined that “Prion” could inspire the movement that is described in the book: Unconditional Solidarity, Solidaridad Incondicional (US/SI). In “Prion,” people join US/SI by celebrating the beauty and worth of life and mourning what has been lost. They come together in a crucible of paradoxical love, both wanting to disengage from life and to embrace it. Out of these tensions comes Unconditional Solidarity, which is a vision and a belief that all life matters. It means that we help each other maintain faith that life is woven of worth, beauty and tragedy, and we discover, over and over again, how life and the power of love knows no bounds. Inspired by life, people make promises to particular species, ecosystems, mountains, rivers, and each other.

Parrots are the species to which people make their promises in “Prion.” Why parrots? In my writing, I wanted the chance to spread more widely the message of the inherent worth, complexity, and beauty of parrots, as well as the harm of the wildlife trade that our human demands engender. I also wanted to write about parrots to give hope, not just to parrot protection projects, but to myself. US/SI is the conservation approach used by One Earth Conservation. It’s hard to keep going without others to foster a vision based on life’s wonders in the midst of such senseless loss. Writing the book helped me remember the how and why of parrot conservation, and was an invitation to others to join me in solidarity so that loneliness might lessen.

Solidarity means never having to be lonely again, for we can’t but help be in solidarity with others. Timothy Morton explains how this is so in his book, “Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People" (Review here). All beings live in a biosphere he calls the “symbiotic real” where entities are related such that there are ragged, haunted, and unknowable boundaries between each, yet we are completely reliant on one another. We need each other because we are each other. This reliance “between discrete yet deeply interrelated beings is solidarity.” We humans can tweak this unavoidable and encompassing solidarity by making it manifest in our thinking and actions through faith in the beautiful mesh of life. Living in interconnection allows ordinary people to see they live in "unordinary" times and in a spectacular reality, so that they achieve extraordinary results.

To promote the US/SI vision in Central America, we have created an unifying logo and have made US/SI stickers and patches to give out to people in our projects. I have been surprised to see people take so quickly to the concept, even despite their many different cultures and languages. In real life, people are reacting like the characters in “Prion,” where there is a joy in belonging to such a movement and vision. Hands reach out eagerly to make US/SI part of their lives by immediately incorporating the stickers and patches onto clothes, uniforms, hats, books, computers, and phones.

We would now like to invite you to use this emblem and join us in Unconditional Solidarity/Solidaridad Incondicional (US/SI), a commitment to uphold the beauty and the interconnectedness of all life on earth. I imagine the US/SI concept being adopted all over the world, as in “Prion,” where this symbol gave rise to a popular grass roots movement, as varied as the people and species on this planet. Stay tuned because a movement is indeed organizing now around this very concept.

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