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If Only We . . .

Wayne Hughes, Amarillo

“Water.” Regardless who uses the word it means exactly the same thing in every language.  Without it, we perish before the sun sets on the sixth day without it.  When it is scare, hard to find, we abandon all other pretenses of civilization and seek after it with deadly determination, whether we’re alone in the middle of the desert or a mighty nation whose crops may fail in the coming spring.

The way we use water tells us much about ourselves.  If we are its stewards, seeking to know there will always be another glass full, another lake or river full, we do all we can to assure  that it will be available to our grandchildren and their grandchildren.  If we waste it, we assume because we have it to waste, someone – some faceless powerful unknown – will assure we will always have it at our disposal.  We feel no obligation for its use except to our ourselves.  We think nothing of watering our lawns in a rainstorm.. If we are those who defile it, pour our discarded filth into it, we do so with a terrible blindness, content to have our needs met today. It will become someone else’s curse later.

For eons, we have sung songs to it, about it.  We have moved it by the animal skin, canals, even by pipe, to assure we water our crops, even if we must deprive someone else in the next valley of its sacrament.  In one way or the other, all wars fought over the last 2000 years have been about water, the way it defines our borders, the way we, not our enemies control the precious fluid that flows through the veins of our civilization.

It is used in reverence as a ritual offering in our religions.  We anoint our children with it, we scrub away the sin and residue of another hard day; we bathe our dead.  Deep inside ourselves, we whisper of the peace that comes when at infinity’s door, we will bribe the boatman for safe passage over the dark river boundary of eternal rest.

We are the people of the water.  We know it is so because we have been shown our home’s picture from the vastness of space.  There it is: our blue watery planet, our assurance we will continue into infinity, if only we . . .