This has been a reoccurring sentiment for me for many years. I haven’t exactly shared it or discussed it in-depth with any of my friends, but it’s something that’s been at the back of my mind since, well, when I started college.
It goes something like this: Whenever I turn on the tap / faucet and let the water run a little while longer than I needed it to, I would think “how many lives could I have saved if I saved this water and given it to someone in extreme poverty-stricken Africa, where food is scarce and water is unclean if available at all?”
Of course, I am well aware of the fact that my usage of water does not directly (not to the average eye, anyway) affect the availability of water to hungry children in Africa. But at a more personal and moral standpoint, I can’t help but think of how lucky I am, as a person living in an advanced city, to have access to water, the most important source of sustainable life.
Note that I employ the term ‘lucky’ here to describe myself as being in a statistical outcome of not being one of the millions of people who do not have access to clean water (check out my earlier post for a focused discussion on the concept of luck). It was by pure chance that I was born in an advanced city. But in a different universe, ‘I’ could have well been born in Somalia or the Nuba Mountains in Sudan.
I hear many parents, mine included, always telling their children not to take things for granted; they would tell them that not every kid gets to enjoy video games, smartphones, and ride in luxury cars. However, not all of them would list things such as food, water, clothing, as things their children should be thankful for, often because they themselves take those things for granted. But for those who do try to make the children aware of their lucky access to the basics of life, many of them fall short in providing a compelling example for the kids to relate to just how lucky they are.
Admittedly, it’s not easy. I always had a sense of how lucky I was, but the compelling (albeit a bit peculiar and bizzare) example that I experienced from observing the relationship between my usage of water and those in the world who do not have access to water was purely self-discovered.
Sadly, and perhaps strangely, my ‘luck’ realization has not prompted me into any drastic actions to help more people gain access to clean water. It has, however, made me do the two very least things I can do: use as little water as I could at home, and frown at people who takes lots of baths and long showers.