For our Called to Climate Action leadership program, we meet once a week as an entire Iowa IPL team. This week our student leaders Claira and Parker (you can meet them in this post) stated that coming out of COVID, we shouldn’t let the world go back to the way it was before. Going forward, recovering from COVID, we need to make the world a better place for everyone.
But they also raised the challenge that there are powerful forces driving us to focus on individual gain, preventing us from trusting each other and working together. In other words, protecting the status quo of what we know, rather than embracing the diversity of what could be.
Generally, the universe is moving towards greater diversity. In many religions, origin stories move into greater diversity. If we stop for a moment, breathe deeply in our experience of being, we can almost feel a call to greater biological diversity and how the collapse of that diversity threatens our ability to live together on the planet. For many people around the world, the rapid decline of diversity is an immediate threat to their lives.
In this month of Pride celebrations around the world, we are reminded of human diversity. For some this month is a party. For others the idea of a month of Pride about the diversity of gender and sexual identity is an uncomfortable challenge or even an outrage.
Even within the LGBT community, I mean LGBTQ community, make that the LGBTQ+ community, the symbols themselves are diversifying. The rainbow flag for example has six horizontal stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. But it started out with eight colors and stripes. And some have used a nine stripe variant. And in 2019 a “Progress Pride Flag” added more colors and some diagonal stripes.
For a community that stands for diversity, I assure you there have been plenty of examples of people from the LGBTQ+ community defending the status quo to defy greater diversity. I say this as a gay man, who has at times been challenged by where “my community” seems to be taking me.
The point is, diversity isn’t easy. Diversity can be downright messy. It can be incredibly uncomfortable. Some people are critical that diversity seems to be a goal unto itself. I agree to a point. Diversity for its own sake isn’t a goal. But it is absolutely necessary. Diversity is a path to a better future. Diversity is how the universe evolves. Diversity is how the creator creates. Diversity is how we solve human problems and help shape a hopeful, abundant future. When we work together through greater diversity, especially when it is personally challenging, we can get to unexpected, hopeful, and abundant solutions.
We are facing an almost impossible task. We have a few decades to help the entire world, the earth itself and all who call it home, transition from what we know of a fossil fueled world into a new world of clean energy and radically reduced waste. The status quo can feel so much more comfortable than the challenge of working together to create new and better ways for up to ten billion people to sustainably live together on Earth.
Instead of depending on burning fossilized fuels, we have to embrace a wide diversity of clean energy sources. Instead of eating a narrower diet of meats and grains and processed foods, we have to serve up a wider diversity of meals from an abundance of diversified crops and livestock. Instead of consolidating power within a smaller number of global companies, we have to expand economic opportunity and leadership to more people from our communities, in our states, across our country, and around the world.
To embrace diversity isn’t simply the goal. Greater diversity is a critical tool to finding the path to an abundant future. Embracing diversity breaks us out of our comfortable individualism and challenges us to find new ways to work together, including how to better work with creation.