We’re expecting rain this week. Even as I’ve have been deeply relishing the warmth of our February sun, I’m still longing for water in this very parched land. Having grown up in the desert and living many years in California, I’ve learned to appreciate water and intimately know how precious it is. While I try never to waste a drop, I know that my health and life depends on it, and I take for granted that the water running through my taps is clean and safe.
Yet Flint, MI, Pensacola, FL, and Charleston, WV are only three of many cities here in the US where access to safe drinking water cannot be taken for granted. Globally, 1 in 10 people lack access to clean water and the consequences of that are dire. Our bodies are roughly 70% water – it is literally our lifeblood. Humans rarely live beyond 4 days without water, and the need for it transcends culture, identity, and geography. We really are little bags of water: withdraw it and we die.
Access to clean water is a privilege in this world, and it is a travesty that this is so.
Creating the conditions whereby every human has access to clean and safe water is a collective responsibility. For some, this is their life’s work, and I offer a deep bow of gratitude to those taking that on. The rest of us have a different kind of work to do: we must stay awake to the disparities of who has access, we must agitate for change, and we must stand in support of those affected by systems that are willing to neglect the health of generally poor and relatively powerless communities.
All things are interconnected. I know that the water running through my veins once traveled the banks of the Ganges. When that mighty river met the sea, mist rose to become clouds billowing across the ocean, joined the Jet Stream, and finally arrived as rain in my beloved Oakland.
So let us take a moment to honor water. Take a sip, if you can, and remember that this sip binds you to every being that has ever been alive, as well as to those yet to come. As you sip, I invite you to consider how essential water is to your own life and leadership.
Let us never take water for granted. Let us work to insure that everyone, every last drop of us – which includes our kin who fly, crawl, grow, and migrate – has access to clean, safe, and life-sustaining water. Let this be our collective prayer and our responsibility.
From my heart to yours.