Why We Celebrate World Water Day

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Sometimes, even as the water crisis rages on, we must celebrate the great work of people all around the world who have changed the health and well-being of their communities by providing clean water. Some days are set aside to tell the stories of lives that have been saved, communities that have tackled water scarcity, and the dignity that comes from making a better future for generations to come. World Water Day is also a sobering reminder that there are mothers, fathers, children, human beings, who are forced to drink dirty, poisonous water from places where a bucket or a drinking glass should never be dipped into for the purpose of drawing up something to be ingested.

We have to acknowledge that the urgency behind the work of providing clean water is real. The clean water crisis is easily overshadowed by wars, political campaigns, and natural disasters. It is hard to keep a present appreciation for the accessibility of something like clean water that has been so abundant in our own lives. Make no mistake. There is a crisis-level urgency to the work of providing clean water whether we can relate to that urgency or not.

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This is not to say that water has not been in the limelight. We have all felt varying levels of compassion and empathy as we relate to the tragedy and struggles of a place like Flint, Mich., and the effects of dirty, tainted water on the children in our homelands. We can understand the outrage. We can find ourselves in the stories of parents who are watching their children’s bodies and brains become stunted and diseased. We would never want this for ourselves, or for anyone. It is best not to linger too long in despair because we have work to do, and we have another side of the story to tell. We have a chance to have an impact. We can join forces with people who have woken up and thought to themselves, “Enough.”

They have had enough of the sickness. They have had enough of the death. They have had enough of sending their children walking instead of sending them to school. The taste of dirty water has reached its most unbearable, bitter taste in their mouths. It will not do. On that morning they start on the path toward health and life and hope and dignity. Can we celebrate these people? Can we take a day to acknowledge that it is hard to do a good thing in the world, and yet, they are doing it? I say we should celebrate with music and stories, good food and drink.

And we should use the day to be grateful and also culpable. We can be inspired and sobered.

So join us in celebrating World Water Day 2016!