Posts Tagged ‘ clean water ’

It’s all about me (not)

Because of my job, I am unavoidably assaulted with “news” about the current “presidential race” (not sure if “presidential” should be in quotes – as in the things going on are not worthy of being called presidential; or if “race” should be in quotes – since the current fiasco is more long-winded (dare I say boring?) than a cricket test match).  After having spent nearly 20 years overseas (i.e., not in the USA), I learned to appreciate other news sources (read: BBC).

And part of the exposure to politicians is having “issues” thrown in my face, over and over and over (ad nauseam).  Topics I guess I should be concerned about, but just can’t.

In my quest for preparing our Twins for their future, I search (“surf”) the web looking for what I think they ought to know.  Facts that should influence their opinions; which of course should then affect their actions.

Two stories on the BBC World Service tonight made me pause.

One was on the  convenience of food.  Specifically, “Is Convenience Killing Us?”  At issue was whether or not “hyper-processed” food was leading to better health, either in the west (USA, UK), or in the east (Red China).  One commentator in the podcast wondered what was compelling us to conclude that everything else we fill our days with was more important than what we eat.  Basically, we are wringing our hands over our bad choices from a plethora of products.  The Twins are approaching their ninth month, and are being weaned – time to start a kitchen garden at least.

(I do love the irony that, we are moving to a new house that will allow a kitchen garden (fresh, homegrown tomatoes!) and reduce my commute to the job I hate by about half.)

The other article was on water.  Of course, everyone knows how consumed Americans are about gender orientation.  This really is shameful considering how many people either don’t have easy access to water, or the water that is available is, well, not suitable for human consumption.

There aren’t many words accompanying this article, which will make it a “quick read.”  Mustafah Abdulaziz has traveled around the world with his camera, and 70 large-scale photographs are on display in London; a handful are available on line.  Consider:

I don’t know how far the children in Sindh Province, Pakistan, must travel for water; but, judging from the background of this photo, it is a really, really long way.  And judging by what they are carrying, they won’t be carrying much water back home.  And, when do they have time for soccer lessons and baseball lessons and … ?

That 57 million people in Nigeria don’t have access to clean water makes me wonder if the photo of a group pulling water out of a very primitive well are some of the lucky ones.

(If you’re not real sure how many people 57 million is, the 2013 National Health Interview Survey estimates something less than 1.8 percent of adults in the USA identify themselves as homosexuals.  This is on the order of about 2 million people.  Presumably, they all have access to clean water.)

It took me awhile to understand one of the photos.  The caption was frighteningly clear: in India, 140,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by bad water.  Looking at our Twins, I can’t even begin to imagine the heartache for the parents.

Besides learning how to type (on a manual typewriter, no less), I often wonder what I learned in high school.  But I apparently learned to love learning.  I hope to instill the Twins with this love.  I do know my parents taught me (by their example) to love to read.  Ultimately, I hope they learn that this life is not about them – they have already taught me that much.




A friend has taken off the kid gloves and put her foot down: there will be no further discussion (presumably with her) on the subject of homosexuality. With little or no study, she has concluded that it is genetic. I applaud her unequivocal resolution. May I suggest two movies that treat the subject admirably: “Philadelphia,” with Tom Hanks (love that guy) and Denzel Washington; and “The Family Stone,” with Craig T. Nelson and Diane Keaton.

Even though I disagree with her, I think some thoughtful reflection on the state of affairs of human beings around the world, not just the rich, vocal, European and American glitterati – the small numbers of those who CHOOSE to be identified primarily, or only, by their sexual preference, and not, say, by their contributions to the arts, or sciences, or the progress of the human race – and ignore:

The 21 million mostly poor, poorly-educated, non-white people with very few choices who are victims of trafficking. This would include sexual exploitation, forced labor, illegal organ removal, forced marriages and illegal adoption. 60% are women and children. (

The nearly 800 million that simply don’t have access to clean water, which kills approximately 3.4 million people a year from diseases related to water. (

The estimated 219 million cases of malaria that killed approximately 660,000 people in 2010 – nearly all in Africa (

Well, you know where I’m going with this: there are much, much bigger fish to fry than to have “sexual orientation” thrown in my face every time I look for news on the internet. Do I care about bigotry and prejudice? Sure I care. But, I care a lot more – a lot more – about the standard of living of those who don’t have even their most basic needs fulfilled, or the barest minimum of dignity granted to them by those who, by some accident of birth happen, at the moment, to have more physical power.

Well, what about DNA? I’m left-handed. I’m the only left-handed person in either my father’s or my mother’s family. People have noticed my “handed-ness” (i.e., commented on it; along the lines of ‘isn’t it difficult?’); and I notice others who prefer their left hand to their right hand (but, I long ago stopped saying anything). It has always been no big deal; I have been able to teach myself to use right-handed scissors. But, seriously folks, how about skin color? In the history of humankind, and all over the world today, skin color plays an extremely important role in a person’s life. How about gender (the biological gender we are all born with – not the gender that happens to be fashionable at the moment)? If you’re a female banker in Scandinavia, too bad: your pay is about one-third of what your male counterparts make (

So, what if I couldn’t teach myself to use right-handed scissors? Why in the world would I make it a point to ensure that everyone around me knew? Why would I make my “condition,” or “situation” their business? Why would I throw it in their face every day? If I raised roses, maybe I would join a rose club. If I defined myself by the wheels under me, whether two or four, I might join a car/motorcycle/bicycle club. But, why would I want people to think of me first, last and always as a _____? As Joe Miller (Denzel Washington in “Philadelphia”) might put it: “Now, explain it to me like I’m a four-year old.”