As I was enjoying my shower at the retreat house this morning – with its hot water and amazing water pressure – it occurred to me (not for the first time, but with great force) that the amount of water I was using in taking my shower was more than some families have for an entire day. One individual shower – more water than a family of five or six might have in an entire day for washing, cooking and any other needs.
Worldwide, one on ten people lack access to safe water and half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. And getting the water people do have is not as simple as turning on a faucet; for many getting water means hauling buckets for very long distances, a physical and time burden that falls primarily on women and girl children.
I do not think any of this means those of us who can turn on our taps and get hot and cold running water ought not take showers. But I do think there are some implications.
First, rather than simply taking them for granted, we should take our showers with gratitude. Appreciate the water as you wash, realizing what a gift it is that you have.
Second, recognizing that many lack what we have, we should not be wasteful with the resources we have. Wasting resources like water (and food) seem to me an insult to those without.
Third, support efforts to build wells or otherwise make it easier for those without access to clean water to acquire it. (The Water Project is one such effort.)
Be mindful that what you have – and have with such ease – others lack.