Sunday, March 1, 2009


As you know, we all need some clean water to lead a decent life. You know - to clean our clothes, to clean our smelly bodies, to do our dishes, to disinfect, to cook, to defecate, and of course, to drink. Ironically, because of it's very necessity we in the rich world have developed amazing ways of just forgetting about it. Our water systems are so good (usually) that we forget how vital it really is. Lately, we've heard about our lack of rain in California, so it's been a bit more on our minds than usual. But not by much; be honest - how much shorter are your showers these days?

But there are literally billions of people (perhaps 1/3 of humanity) who do not have access to clean water. When they go to the bathroom, their excrement goes into the very water that others will drink. There's not enough water to clean their hands, or wash themselves. And so the most vulnerable, as usual, are the first to die. Cholera takes the lives of the old, the infirm and children. Diarrhea will do the same. If nothing else, I can hardly fathom the indignity I would feel about using a forest or river as a bathroom.

All this could be prevented by something as simple as clean water. But the simplest of problems often have maddeningly complex issues lying just beneath the surface. And I think those issues (poverty, abuse of power, hate) ultimately come down to how we treat one another. People don't just one day wake up with no clean water. Water is a valuable and limited resource, and so the powerful will take it from the weak. Jesus' ministry has sometimes been called "the upside down kingdom" - the last shall be first. When we treat the least of us as the first, we will see the injustice of their poverty.

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