Thursday, August 5, 2010

Water

photo by darkpatator
Water. We take it so much for granted. Turn a handle, squeeze a nozzle, push a button and out it pours, ready to do our bidding. Washing hands, doing dishes, loads of laundry, cleaning, water gun battles, filling pools, watering lawns; it is ours to command. Stop and think. Can you tell me how many times you have used water so far today? From brushing your teeth this morning (hopefully) to the drink you just got from the refrigerator how many times has water been there for you?

I've been thinking about it today. Not because it isn't there, but because I'm not supposed to use it. A crisis in the sewage system due to a recent spate of heavy rains has called for severe restrictions on water usage since last evening for our side of the city, lest an over-taxed system start backing up sewage into people's homes.

Sure, I rejoiced in a reason not to do laundry. I may have even looked at the dirty dishes and smirked a little...until they threatened to start taking over my kitchen. I figured I'm home all day so no one cares if I don't shower.

Yep, I may have been a little self-congratulatory over my willingness to 'suffer' for the sake of residents who would have been affected by a sewage back-up.

And then I came across these statistics (from the website of the Mennonite Central Committee):
  • In our world, one billion people do not have access to safe and affordable drinking water. 2.4 billion live in conditions that lack basic sanitation.
  • 2.2 million people in developing countries die every year from diseases associated with lack of clean drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
  • The average U.S. citizen uses more than 79 gallons of water per day. The average person in the developing world? Barely a quarter of a gallon.
What if I had to spend a four hour round trip on foot just to get water for my family? What if I couldn't just turn the handle and have access to water that I knew was safe?

It makes my temporary water restrictions look like a cake walk. It makes me feel a little less self-congratulatory, a little less proud of my 'sacrifices'. It makes me want to cry for how good I have it, and how different that is from how so many live and die.

It makes me look at water in a new light.

It makes me want to make a difference.


Photo by magnus franklin

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