Monday, August 3, 2009

Access to clean water

What goes through your mind when you reach for the water faucet at home? If I am getting a drink, I'm usually thinking about how good it is going to taste. If I am cleaning something in the house, I always know that the most versatile cleaning agent is within a few feet of me. If I'm starting a load of laundry, I'm usually thinking about how I don not enjoy doing my laundry.

But really, do thoughts of war, price-gouging, or making a day-long trip in the elements ever enter into your thinking?

The website www.foreignpolicy.com usually has engaging material from the international world featured on a daily "quiz." Take a look at the quiz from June 22nd, as it especially puts perspective on the ways in which water is handled across the world:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/06/21/the_fp_quiz

What "good" can be found when people are waging war over one of the most plentiful resources found on Earth? What "good" can be shown by those of us who do not have trouble receiving access to clean water?

For myself, it means shorter showers, leaving the faucet off when it is absolutely not needed, not watering the lawn except when Mother Nature decides it is time, and many other ways. It is humbling to know that I am blessed with easy access to seemingly unlimited, (mostly) clean water... the same water that is fought over with war in other parts of the world.

One of the texts that I am currently reading has to do with the war in Iraq and the ways in which troops are commanded there. One study that I recall examines two groups of soldiers in particular and they way that they position themselves in their respective Iraqi neighborhood. The first group of soldiers knocked down every door in the neighborhood, looking for those who instigate violence. They patrolled the streets at all times, even setting a curfew for residents at night. The second group of soldiers worked on providing basic needs for citizens, like dependable shelter, working systems of education, a dependable electrical grid and clean water for all. Could you guess which group of soldiers saw decreasing levels of violence in the neighborhood? Stories like these are not uncommon. Do we really think that we are so different from those who live in Iraq? Don't we all want "good" to be embodied in our neighborhood?

Toward eupan.

~ stephen vandervort