Tags: Religion | Unions | schweizer | solidarity | weigel

At 100, John Paul Lives as an Inspiration

pope john paul ii

Pope John Paul II attends an Ecumenical Celebration with Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I at St. Peter's Basilica - Nov. 27, 2004 - in Vatican City. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 27 October 2020 10:06 AM

There is no freedom without solidarity . . .  There is no solidarity without love."

John Paul II

2020 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of St. Pope John Paul, II as well as the 42nd anniversary of his election as Pope.

The first non-Italian leader of Roman Catholics throughout the world in 400 years, the former Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland was a larger-than-life figure who played a pivotal role in the downfall of Communism — right alongside Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Indeed, Lech Walsea — leader of the "Solidarity" labor organization and later president of a free Poland said several times that without John Paul, there would have been no Solidarity.

"Solidarity" in Poland bloomed as a fruit of hope in August 1980. As James Billington, Russia expert and professor of history, stresses, "Solidarity was not a simply a labor union; it became what the Soviets feared most — a massive political and social movement. This anti-communist, pro-Catholic Church movement favored free speech, freedom of religion, free press, and free elections." It was a phenomenon in the unknown scale in Europe. It was something that caused a worldwide attention and admiration at the same time.

"Reagan also understood Solidarity’s uniqueness at a precarious time for the USSR. He noted that nothing like Solidarity had existed in the Soviet Bloc," according to Peter Schweizer.

Therefore, as president of the United States of America, Reagan would do everything he could to keep "Solidarity" alive.

In his philosophical book Person and Act (published in the U.S. as The Acting Person) Karol Wojtyla first wrote about "solidarity" as an idea, "It is this attitude that allows man to find the fulfillment of himself in complementing others." Then the idea of solidarity became the banner under which the history of the 20th century changed. Word transformed into body, a body of nearly 10 million men and women, "Solidarity."

The "Solidarity" movement had many fathers and mothers. But it was John Paul II,during his nine days in Poland in 1979, who "sharpened those consciences to a particularly fine edge of purposefulness and gave them permission to exercise the right of moral judgment in public," as George Weigel put it.

Professor Zbigniew Stawrowski, Polish philosopher and author argues that, "The Holy Father really did 'mess' with the creation of Solidarity and did not deny it at all, because without him and his teaching, Solidarity would either not exist at all, or it would have taken a completely different shape. However, this relationship was not one-sided at all, because Solidarity also offered something to the Pope and taught him something. Solidarity offered him herself and taught him something, which in a new and surprisingly attractive form for the modern world allowed to express the essential threads present in the Christian message."

Once "Solidarity" was born, the Holy Father faithfully accompanied his spiritual child. He was a patron and promoter of "Solidarity." He supported her materially, intellectually, and spiritually. John Paul II tried to prevent "Solidarity" from loosing its original missionary spirit; additionally, he strengthened the significance of the idea of solidarity as far as the Catholic social teachings.

Today, after 40 years, we clearly see that "Solidarity" was the spark that started the fire and, finally, it helped to defeat Communism. Thus, solidarity brought freedom to Poland, and in effect liberty to Soviet-occupied Europe. Solidarity was more than either an organization or a socio-political postulate. It was a comprehensive spiritual experience and victory of good over evil.

The legacy of the "Solidarity"movement goes beyond Poland’s borders. It's a universal message against regimes that silence their citizens and deny them rights.

The experience of Polish "Solidarity" should become a lesson to America in particular now, during one of the most challenging moments the country faces such as pandemic, riots, aggression, crime, leadership crisis, chaos in values, threats to family, religious freedom under assault, and others.

All this should remind American that "There is no freedom without solidarity . . . There is no solidarity without love" as Pope John Paul II preached. Solidarity means a certain system of values, respect to the man and human dignity, freedom, peace over war, and evolution over revolution.

Solidarity as "the primary authentic attitude toward society, in which individual freedom is deployed to serve the common good, and the community sustains and supports individuals as they grow into a truly human maturity" — as Weigel says. It also means cooperation between people, cultures, political systems, and different countries.

America yearns for change. At this time, the cooperation of people should overcome selfishness, aggression, bitterness, and complaints. We want a strong, grand America. I am certain that we are going to be able to shape this country and our common future as long as we take the heritage of "Solidarity" as the foundation of our activities. The idea of solidarity is a reliable guarantee for the construction of a better future for America.

Let Saint John Paul II, as he expressed it himself in Gdynia in 1987, drive his message to America and the American people: "Solidarity must come before the fight. Therefore, the humanity will survive . . . . the human life on earth becomes 'more human' because it follows the truth, freedom, justice and love."

Monika Jablonska is a consultant with expertise in international business transactions and NGOs, lawyer and philanthropist. Currently, Ms. Jablonska is working on her Ph.D. thesis in political science. She is the author of "Wind from Heaven: John Paul II, The Poet Who Became Pope." Her second book about St. John Paul II will be released in 2021. She also writes for various magazine and newspapers in the United States and Europe.

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I am certain that we are going to be able to shape this country and our common future as long as we take the heritage of "Solidarity" as the foundation of our activities.
schweizer, solidarity, weigel
Tuesday, 27 October 2020 10:06 AM
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