It all started a few months ago, when I received terrible news. One of my friends had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s young and vibrant, and it was such a shock to everyone.
She’s going to get well. Of course she is. But there is a painful journey ahead of her. Operations, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, fatigue … And she really dreaded losing her long hair. This is not trivial. It is really devastating to some women. The bald head is often the symbol itself of a cancer patient. The only thing I could think of as a friend was to add some sense of solidarity, to make her feel less alone in this. So my immediate reaction was: I’ll shave my head too, then.
So I did. We did together. And it was actually a really warm, fun night full of friends and laughs. We made her a mohawk before it all went off. And I looked like a balding, old man for a bit.
I’m no suffering saint. For some reason losing the attachment to my hair (pun intended) is something I’ve wanted to do for myself too. And it’s not an uncommon thing that people shave their heads in solidarity. I constantly hear stories of others doing the same. This makes me happy. This makes me believe that solidarity is not just some worn-out expression best left behind in the seventies. It’s something that lives in all of us.
Shaving my head made me think (maybe my brain needed some fresh air). It made me contemplate solidarity it its essence. To me it’s distinctly different from charity because it encompasses doing something within an atmosphere of equality. It’s not about glorifying the giver. Solidarity needs equality to thrive.
And the idea that kept me awake at night was that of spreading it. Passing it forward. Inspiring each other. It’s nothing new, but it is exciting! I think that if we share our little acts of solidarity it can become something much bigger.
So please, feel free to share your thoughts, your questions and, most importantly, your acts!