The widely recognized call-and response chant at oil pipeline protests is “Mni Wiconi … Water is Life.” It reflects the view that water is sacred and essential. Others view water very differently, treating it more like a tennis shoe or a soft drink — something that can be bought and sold.
There does not appear to be common ground. If we say that water is both “life” and a “commodity” subject to the marketplace, we essentially are saying we are OK with life being sold to the highest bidder.
This week, Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis hosted a Water Justice Conference, including a webcast bringing in international speakers. Among them was Archbishop Thabe Makgoba from St. George’s Cathedral in Capetown, South Africa. Clean water is an issue that unites those who are working on environmental issues and those working to help the poor, he said.
“We must stand against industrial policy that threatens water,” Makgoba said. “We must understand the issues and language of clean water. [We must] engage those who are willfully or mindlessly polluting to face [these issues].
There are any number of reasons we all should be concerned about significant threats to clean water, from oil pipeline leaks to water futures markets.
Consider the following. Continue reading