By Matt Russell
Nobody got everything they wanted.
That is an important truth about the 2020 elections. Voting is over, except in Georgia for two Senate runoffs. Elections are mostly resolved, except in a few places like Iowa’s second congressional district. And we know our faithful call to civic engagement is always ongoing. We must continue our work, even after the election. The most important aspects of our work are about building the bridges to hopeful solutions for all Iowans who are struggling to make sense out of what the elections mean for their own political identity.
As people of faith and conscience, our identities are deeper and more complex than simply belonging to a political tribe. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with participating in a political party. Many of us call ourselves Democrats, Republicans, Green, Libertarians or Independents. But with all the challenges we face, there is no time to reinforce divisive politics. We have to invest in the incredibly hard but doable work of a politics of inclusion.
Part of that hard work is communicating with our elected leaders about our need to uphold our shared values as we advance environmental justice. We’re inviting all Iowans to join together in signing our current faith statement on climate action. We will deliver a copy of the statement with a list of all the Iowans who have signed it to all Iowans elected to state and federal offices in early February. This isn’t a policy statement. It is a vision statement that invites all Iowans of faith and conscience to join in developing the diversity of policies we’re going to need to advance environmental justice.
Some pundits might see environmental justice and climate action as partisan wedge issues. Indeed, there are forces that organize around environmental policies to reinforce partisan, ideological group-think. But at Iowa IPL, we reject the idea that our country and state are too divided to find common ground. We reject the notion that climate change is too partisan to develop policy solutions across Iowa that can help heal our planet. We actually embrace the work of environmental justice as the very fulcrum for bringing our state and our country together. There’s a great paradox in seeing unity and action in the exact path that so many see as the most divisive and contested. Faith traditions from throughout history and across peoples are uniquely suited to finding great truths in the midst of challenging paradoxes.
As a people of faith and conscience, we are who Iowa needs in this time of great transformation. We must move from a world of scarcity powered by fossil fuels and into a world of abundance where we power our lives with the living gifts of creation. The fact that nobody is completely satisfied with the outcome of our elections, means there is an opportunity to build bi-partisan bridges and onramps to new possibilities and strategies for clean energy, conservation, regenerative agriculture, and a more equitable future. Some might consider this naive. We consider it an act of faith and grounded in our shared identity as Iowans willing to invest in hard work when we know the work has to get done.