When a group intends to enact Peace and Power values, their Principles of Solidarity are essential. These principles evolve over time, but at the outset the group writes out the values and ideals that they envision bringing into action as a public record of their intention. The fundamental idea is expressed in the old adage: “actions speak louder than words.” So while it is essential to put the group’s values into words, the process of doing so focuses on the intention of the group to bring those words into action. Here is an example: if the group values the principle of respect for every point of view, then during a discussion they will always take the time for everyone to speak who has a different point of view. They will not use a “majority vote” to silence the respectful consideration of all minority viewpoints.
Your Principles of Solidarity will provide the foundation for all of your decisions, and as an anchor around which you transform conflict into opportunities for growth. They keep your sight focused clearly on your purposes and the ideals that you seek to enact.
Here are the questions to put before the group in forming your Principles of Solidarity:
- Who are we? Not only your name, but who will be included as members or participants, and why? Are we a “closed” or “open” group? If we are open to new members, what is the process for integrating new members?
- What are our purposes? Why does your group exist, and what limits or boundaries keep you from overreaching and overextending your time and energy.
- What are our shared beliefs and values? Focus on values you envision bringing to action.
- What individual differences do we need to consider? Individual differences represent potential power imbalances between and among group members, such as different economic resources, different education backgrounds, different religious or political views, etc.
- What do we expect of one another? Consider expectations for time, for being present at meetings, for being prepared, for responsibilities to one another.
- What message do we want to convey to others? What will your group stand for in the larger community? What responsibilities does your group have in the larger community?
- How can we protect the integrity of the group? How will you protect your group from burnout, or from being distracted by demands and interests beyond the interests of the group?