Michał KŁOSOWSKI: The Third Wave of Solidarity

The Third Wave of Solidarity

Photo of Michał KŁOSOWSKI


Deputy Editor-in-Chief of „Wszystko co Najważniejsze”, Head of The International Projects Department of the Institute of New Media, journalist, and columnist. Author of radio and television programs. An archaeologist, philosopher, and historian by education, studied, among others, at the Jagiellonian University, the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow, and the London University of Arts.

Ryc.Fabien Clairefond

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The idea of Polish solidarity gives hope for a different organisation of our part of the world – one that is contrary to the so-called “Russkiy mir” characterised by imperialism and egoism. Solidarity against imperialism.

.Each country and each nation has its own DNA. It is clearly visible in the face of the conflict in Ukraine. As far as Russia, regardless of the historical moment or the political system, authorities, or intellectual trends, is shaped by the imperial idea, Poland is created by something completely different: subsidiarity and solidarity, which are currently once again seeing the light of day. The best examples are the openness to Ukrainians fleeing war zones and the help offered by our country to those fighting for independence and freedom.

The numbers speak for themselves: Three million refugees have crossed the border between Poland and Ukraine, with Poland becoming a hub of support for Ukraine, through which humanitarian air can reach the war-torn country. All because we understand very well that Ukrainians are the people who are fleeing from war and what it brings: death and destruction, the brutality of Russian aggressors, murders and rapes brought upon the civilian population. Poles have opened their hearts and homes on a mass scale, invited their Ukrainian neighbours to schools and universities. This is a new opening in the relationship between our nations, the beginning of a new history of societies that are connected by a shared neighbourhood history, yet thus far not necessarily in a way that we would have liked. Vladimir Putin’s aggression has changed everything.

What has brought about this change? The lessons learned from our own history. At each stage of our school education, we have been taught how many times in our history we had to seek shelter and help from our neighbours or even strangers. The Polish history of the last two hundred years is one of incessant fights for freedom and independence, the right of self-determination, and maintaining distinctiveness from the surrounding powers – the exact same things that Ukrainians are fighting for today; deeply human values.

France had welcomed us during the Great Emigration, so did Great Britain, Persia, and even far-distant India. Faced with life threatening situations, we were able to count on our friends around the world. Today Ukrainians who can find help and shelter in Poland thank us for the very same thing.

Poles have both welcomed and invited those who seek help: they are publishing information on how many people they can host and feed, how many people they can help, they drive to the border and neighbouring Lviv, they organise humanitarian transports, and endangering their own health and lives – they act. Regular people are helping Ukrainians with transport from the border to places throughout Poland free of charge, and the Polish Railways have introduced free transportation for Ukrainians escaping war, so that each person with a Ukrainian passport can travel freely across Poland. Warsaw, the capital of our country, has increased its population by one-fifth, providing shelter to all in need. The Polish government made available to Ukrainians all benefits accessible to Poles: the 500+ support programme for children, medical assistance, social help, and education. It is a new beginning, a third wave of solidarity that is sweeping across Poland. “Solidarity” was the first one, a mass social movement that amazed the world. The second wave came with the great commotion caused by the death of Pope John Paul II, when everyone promised to each other peace and harmony, and for several weeks a supranational consensus encompassed Poland. The third wave of Polish solidarity has emerged just now, when the success of Polish transformation of the last thirty years is divided into two, when we share with Ukrainians everything we have.

For above all, Ukrainian refugees are finding shelter in Polish homes. Several million people do. Some may say: the Ukrainian diaspora, residing in Poland since 2014, took them in, as did the church and other tertiary sector organisations. It is true. The reason why there is no need to build refugee centres is also the fact that Poland still has strong institutions, such as the church, which come to aid without seeking the limelight and unnecessary publicity. For the church is above all the people. Ukrainians were met with typical Polish hospitality, expressed in the proverb “A guest in the house is God in the house”. They are finding refuge in the homes of Poles, but also in spaces, student residence halls, and hotels where the cost of their accommodation and meals is paid for by the Polish budget, and where young Poles are usually the ones who volunteer, as for them, the current events are a generational experience.

The idea of Polish solidarity gives hope for a different organisation of our part of the world – one that is contrary to the so-called “Russkiy mir” characterised by imperialism and egoism. Solidarity against imperialism.

.We have to do everything we can to take good care of people fleeing from the attacked Ukraine. It comes directly from the idea of Polish sovereignty and community: solidarity and subsidiarity that have accompanied us for decades. If we allow these values to break, if after the initial euphoria we let our national flaws triumph, we will lose the great chance that we have today. For Poles and Ukrainians, freedom, democracy, and solidarity are not empty slogans. Just as for other countries that freed themselves from the “Red tyranny”, these values are of fundamental importance to us.

Michał Kłosowski

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