Water and wealth

The news today says 75% of Americans are depressed, stressed, and angry.  Money bubbles are bursting everywhere and we’re panicking like the sheep we are.  We feel victimized, and are hot to pinpoint the culprit, the thief who caused this horrific injustice. 

Yet modern psychology knows that we are never victims without consenting to it.  We are always in control of our reactions, and while we can’t change others, we can always modify our responses.  Rather than copping the attitude of victims at this point, we could study the situation for ways we’ve perpetuated the crisis and ways we can live and work with greater awareness in the future.

Consider water.  I was reading an article yesterday about the dire lack of potable water in many of the poorest areas of our globe, and it occurred to me that we can profitably compare water and money.

Though most of us pay for the water we use, it’s one of those things that is “too cheap to matter, though not too cheap to meter.”  We take clean and plentiful water for granted.  In Southeast Asia and Africa, though, millions die annually from drinking and bathing in toxic water because the infrastructure to provide decent sanitation is nonexistent.  And theorists claim that the day will come when there is not enough water for our exploded population, when the distribution of water will wield much greater power than that of gasoline today.

So it makes sense to respect water, and to conserve it at every opportunity.  It also makes sense to value the world’s water supply in even greater measure than we value money.  If we persist with this thought only a little further, we begin to see that respect and conservation of natural resources is the true source of lasting wealth.  Wealth, like clean water, should be equally available to all.  But not wealth that’s grounded in money; I’m talking about a new definition of wealth.  We need to leave the wealth of materialism behind and mature into a species that understands wealth as profound appreciation for creation and the natural gifts of the Earth.

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1 comment so far

  1. Kristine Goad on

    YES!! I agree with you that our definitions of wealth and prosperity must change to be more about our individual health, the health of our communities, and the health of the planet and ALL of its inhabitants. I’m actually a little concerned that this economic crisis, big and scary as it is, may not be big and scary enough to force us to also redefine the ways we measure the economic health of our nation. New definitions for prosperity need to be based not on how many things we created, shipped, and consumed, but on the health of the environment, the health of our people, REAL equality and justice for all–including humans who live on other continents and nonhuman life forms, and how happy our culture is. NPR did a story on measuring Gross National Happiness as an index of how well our country is doing, and I think that would be a splendid start.

    (Sorry, I’m behind in my reading and just now trying to get caught up!)


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