As 2021 draws to a close, I'm writing this to share with you where our issues stand and what I believe our movement of people of faith and conscience for climate justice must do next.
The possibility of a world where all beings can thrive has taken some big hits recently.
The agreement coming out of COP 26—November’s global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland—has been called a “death sentence” for the poorest people on our planet. Our nation’s most ambitious investment in climate and communities to date, the Build Back Better Act, is now stalled in the Senate. Meanwhile, earlier this fall, a military budget that dwarfs any proposed climate spending was rubber stamped with bipartisan support and without fanfare.
Thousands of starlings move together as one before resting for the night. Scientists hypothesize that they may do this to confuse predators and minimize individual risk.
The people of Benton Harbor and Flint still don’t have clean water, while Detroiters are still rebuilding after summer floods overwhelmed our crumbling infrastructure. President Biden has opened more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico up for oil drilling, while Energy Secretary and our former Governor Jennifer Granholm recently told the National Petroleum Council that she does “not want to fight” with them and has reassured them that there will be no ban on their export of crude oil.
Is your blood boiling yet?
In recapping all this bad news, I run the risk of leaving you feeling… less than hopeful. I’m certain I’m not supposed to do that, according to marketing experts.
But I'm sharing it anyway because the gravity of our ecological crisis and the refusal of political leaders and powerful institutions to accept significant change compel me to see Michigan IPL’s role in an increasingly assertive light.
Instead of merely offering hope, I believe that our best and highest purpose is to inspire our supporters towards courage. And to provide our community with support and opportunities to act courageously for climate justice.
The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, still a teenager, famously said: “I don’t want your hope… I want you to feel the fear I feel every day, and then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
In order to transform systems—and to reconstruct the moral and spiritual foundations underlying them—we need the courage to act and the capacity to do the uncomfortable work. We need to be willing to name the culprits of our climate crisis: fossil fuel companies, the financial industry that bankrolls them, and the governments (like ours) that enable them. Perhaps, as I’ve come to believe, we should have a little less faith that those in power will do the right thing, if only we supply them with the right information and ask very nicely. And, ultimately, we need the courage to challenge and risk upsetting some of the people in our communities for whom frank conversation about our climate emergency is “too political and divisive.”
Faith communities and prophetic religious leaders, as you well know, have a proud history of doing just this. From abolition to women’s suffrage to the Civil Rights movement, they have spoken truth to power and transformed societies, even as the struggle for justice is still ongoing. It’s now time to bring that same moral courage and spiritual power to bear on the climate crisis.
I don’t need to tell you that the stakes could not possibly be higher.
In 2022, Michigan IPL turns 20. In the first half of the year, we’ll be reflecting on our history and discerning the path this organization must take to meet this moment. If you’d like to be a part of that discernment in a small or a big way, please reach out to me. You can book a time to talk on my calendar instantly here: calendly.com/leahwiste or send me an email at [email protected]. I would love to connect.
If you’re in a position to support our work and help fuel this vision for a bolder approach with a donation, we’d be so grateful!
As always, you can:
- mail your donation to us at 1950 Trumbull, Detroit MI 48216
- or donate online
And if you feel called to contribute in non-monetary ways, I would love to talk about how you can plug in. Many hands and talents of all kinds will be required to realize our vision.
The plants and some animals around us have entered a season of rest and quiet preparation for new growth. My wish for you—and for me, too!—is that you can take time to follow this wise example in the days and weeks ahead.
P.S.: For 2021 only, cash donations up to $300 ($600 per couple) are tax deductible even if you don't itemize.