FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Thirsting for Justice

by KATHY KELLY

At Maryhouse Catholic Worker, in New York City, word arrived, on a hot August day that, due to street construction, the water would be cut off for four hours the following day.  The Catholic Worker community serves scores of guests each day, and the water shortage would have to be dealt with practically.  Catholic Workers are legend for being practical in their approach toward problem solving, and in this matter a decision was quickly made:  fill the bathtubs on each floor with water, post a sign that none of the toilets could be used, and quickly make one hundred or so egg salad sandwiches which could be served to guests at the door since it wouldn’t be practical to invite people indoors when there wouldn’t be any running water.  How could they wash the dishes?  What about the women who were accustomed to coming in and taking a shower?  And how could you close off the toilets to the usual flow of guests?

I smiled to myself, remembering an invitation I had just received to experiment with using only 6.3 gallons of water, per person, over the course of an entire day.  The experiment would be nearly impossible for most U.S. people to fulfill.  The invitation came from the Middle East Children’s Alliance, who are coordinating the 2012 Thirsting for Justice Summer Challenge, in the US, which calls on supporters worldwide to live on 6.3 gallons in one day, in solidarity with the average allotment of water available to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

A quick look at a chart supplied by the campaign website showed that just by flushing the toilet, washing the dishes and taking a shower an average North American consumer of water would use up far more than the allotted 6.3 gallons!  However,  I was so jet lagged after having just returned from Afghanistan that I knew I would barely leave my room at Maryhouse Catholic Worker, –no problem foregoing a shower and no need to be troubled over using too much water to wash dishes and, well, if the toilets were closed, there must be another way to “make do.”

Truthfully, I’ve learned plenty about “making do” in Afghanistan where people are familiar with water shortages, especially during harsh winters when the pipes freeze and, if the electricity is “off,” and wells are dependent on electricity, people face several days in a row with no water.

But once I’m back in the U.S., my usual levels of consumption kick back into full gear.  I might remember to use less water for washing dishes, but I would never fill and haul large plastic basins, in advance of doing dishes, because of lacking tap water.  I might take a shower as quickly as possible, but I wouldn’t do so by dipping one small bowl of water into a larger bowl and pouring that overhead.  As for whether or not I’m over consumptive if I boil water to make myself a cup of tea or instant coffee…well, the question never occurs to me.

For Gazans, practicalities related to water consumption constantly nag people who never will know of the luxuries taken for granted by people who presume upon endless supplies of water.  A particular irony, in Gaza and the surrounding region, is that there actually is enough water available for all…or there could be, if the available reserves of water were shared equitably.

And so my friends at MECA and the Thirsting for Justice Campaign have invited us all to become more sensitive to the plight of Gazans and Palestinians throughout the West Bank, as they try to believe that we are all part of one another, that we all have the same blood and water running through our veins while experience tells them that they are rendered less eligible, less deserving, less equal when it comes to their basic human right to clean water.  The Israeli consumption of water to fill swimming pools, power nuclear reactors and match western levels of consumption forbids life-giving availability of water for Gazans and people in the West Bank.

My ideal day for participating in the experiment has come and gone and now I must sign up for another day when my usual patterns of consumption are in full swing.  I feel humbled, troubled.

Please visit MECA’s website and join me in evaluating myself, on a normal day, in relation to people in Gaza and the West Bank, people who mean us no harm but whose lives are affected every day by the warmaking and war profiteering practices of the Israeli government, an occupying government that relies, every day, on U.S. governmental support.  Let’s look forward to the withering of any support for war and a time when our tolerance for imperial control over subjugated people will dry up, becoming as bereft of sustenance as, say, the Jordan River is bereft of water….another image for another day of considering practical resistance to water wars.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)  When in Afghanistan, she and other Voices activists are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (www.ourjourneytosmile.com)

COMING IN SEPTEMBER

A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch

Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …

Subscribe to CounterPunch Today to Reserve Your Copy

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail