What if we declare allegiance to our local communities?

At my desk, I have a little Iowa flag; it reads: “Our freedoms we hold dear and our rights we will uphold.” This commitment does not mention our responsibilities to Iowa; for example, our duty to protect Iowa’s soil, water and biodiversity – the land. Nor does it say anything about our responsibility to our communities.

I offered a possible addition: “Our duty to restore Iowa’s land and water we will fulfill, and our responsibility to community, equity, and health we will gladly fulfill. “

At a time when manufactured divisions and the promotion of hatred seem to have confused many, we need ways to find our bearings and rediscover what we share in common where we live. The forces of division want us to think by labels: Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, immigrants, etc. An “other” is created, and the members of this other group (choose your label) would be so different from us that there is something wrong with them that we should oppose. In my experience, the best antidote to these lies is a renewed commitment to the life of your community, where you live.

My experience has been that when we participate in the essential work of improving local life, we will soon see that ‘others’ too are human beings and are interested in making things better, and that the work we do together will probably help us see our shared humanity in each other. I am inspired by the work of so many people and organizations who have stayed behind and committed a lifetime of service to their home communities and regions.

Following:Opinion: These “acts of good neighborliness” can recharge us

Following: Read Des Moines Councilwoman Indira Sheumaker’s oath to the people

What if we developed and declared our allegiance to the local community where we live?

Here is my first draft of what mine would be:

“I swear allegiance to my home area where I live in Black Hawk County, Iowa. I will work to protect and improve Dry Run Creek, Cedar River, and many other waterways in our area. I am committed to helping local people to value and better protect the natural spaces and wide open spaces that bring us so much joy, health and beauty I am committed to protecting the floodplains of our region against the acts of recklessness that degrades them and leaves us all vulnerable to future flooding.At the wooded area near 18th and the Main where barded owls, crows, red-headed vultures live at the end of my block in Cedar Falls, I swear allegiance.

“I am committed to supporting the fruit and vegetable farms around us whose crops make us healthy. I promise to buy a significant part of what I eat from local fruit and vegetable producers, bakers, honey producers, creameries and other local food businesses around us so my food dollars support their livelihoods I will work to help restaurants, grocers, schools and institutions around us buy local produce I will work to address food inequities in our community where many do not have access to a full-service grocery store to keep fresh fruits and vegetables healthy.

“I am committed to making neighborhoods in my community more livable and enjoyable, creating safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists and planting many more trees in public spaces for shade, beauty and walking. .”

Swearing allegiance to this place, to the people around you, and to the land we live in, gives meaning to our broader and more abstract allegiance to the flag. The two go together. It is neither possible nor consistent to pledge allegiance to the flag and yet not commit to addressing the inequalities and needs of the local community where we live. Commitment to the region of origin is a heroic task of a lifetime.

The Pledge of Allegiance is an expression of our love and loyalty to the place of origin. It takes all of us to keep this commitment; it is the opposite of being divided and every man for himself. There are endless ways to renew our devotion to where we live in Iowa. What do you like and are committed to improving in your community in 2022?

Kamyar Enshayan

Kamyar Enshayan works at the University of Northern Iowa; he served on the Cedar Falls City Council from 2003 to 2011. You can reach him at [email protected]

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