NETWORK Lobby Leaders Envision a Future Built Anew

Toward the Kin-dom

A More Just Future Depends on Everyone Building Together

Movements of people striving for justice have the power to affect real change by pushing for policies that build up the common good. Throughout history, we have seen social and political movements arise, especially from moments of destruction and turmoil, to deliver righteous change. Advocates, organizers, and people of faith know that the process of building so often begins with rebuilding, with emerging from a deep hole and the rubble of broken structures and systems.

The process of re-building from a solid foundation has biblical roots. In the book of Isaiah the Lord says, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line” (Isaiah 28:16-17).

Such is the model and inspiration for NETWORK’s Build Anew agenda. We seek to build up God’s beloved community, a kin-dom of God. Where our political and social systems in this country are not built to include and provide for everyone, we must dismantle, reimagine and build a new foundation, based on the cornerstones of justice, equity, and solidarity.
Pivotal movements such as the Civil Rights Era show us a road map for rebuilding. Racist policies and practices were denying people of color the right to participate fully in a society where they could feel safe and flourish. Civil Rights leaders and activists knew this was not the world God promised, and took on the responsibility to work toward dismantling the old racist structures and building a new social contract that includes everyone. The Catholic Sisters who founded NETWORK 50 years ago were operating out of the same Spirit.

We see these same efforts taking place now through the work of NETWORK Advocates teams and the policies being delivered by this Congress and Administration. The last several years left us in a crater socially and politically – with a global pandemic and political insurrection, on top of distrust in political leadership fueled by a politics of xenophobia and white nationalism. To build anew we must first emerge from this deep hole.

Congress and the Biden administration have stepped into this moment with policies promoting justice and equity. With legislation like the EQUAL Act and the Sentencing Reform package moving through Congress, we see a desire to repair practices that perpetuate racism and white supremacy and foment Christian nationalism. The advocacy work of our community on issues such as Title 42 expulsions at the border and establishing a federal reparations commission show the dedication to building anew.

The signs of our times are troubling and at times terrifying. With growing extremist ideology, an increase in violence, and pernicious political polarization, it can be hard to imagine creating a new world where all can live in dignity and peace. We are looking at the very real possibility of losing our democracy, and if we do, there will be no building anew for a very long time.
But this is our call. Democracy carries both rights and responsibilities. It is not optional to sit by and allow the destruction of a vision of our society that we know is possible. Now is the time that everyone, not just leaders, must step up and do their part.

We must take inspiration and teachings from the change-makers who came before us to continue building towards our vision of the kin-dom. We all have to do whatever we can to save the foundation upon which we were founded so that we can build “a new heaven and a new earth,” a future that embodies the truly representative, multi-racial society we all envision, centered on human dignity.

This article originally appeared in the Third Quarter 2022 issue of Connection, NETWORK’s quarterly magazine – A Time to Build. Read the entire issue here.

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