Oil or Water

“Just Stop Oil” is the latest environmental activist group to grab the public spotlight with their bright-orange demonstrations. Awareness is directed at oil consumption as a bringer of death. But what if, as Charles Eisenstein suggests in Climate: A New Story, we focused instead on another substance, a source of life. What if we found ways of becoming more aware of water?

Water sources are, and have always been, sacred everywhere on Earth. They are sources of life, the liquid soil of civilization. This is no less true today than it was thousands of years ago. Unlike the numbers game that the battle against global warming seems to be, the complexity and vulnerability of water evades simple characterization and quantification. Water can exist in so many different states and act in so many different ways. The extreme and extraordinary fires, droughts, hurricanes, and floods of our time call attention to the fact that the “water body” of the earth is losing its center. Is it possible to sanctify anew a familiar body of water, one nearby—a pond, a lake, or a stream?

The ease of getting water from the tap is deceptive, making it easy to forget the existence of rainforests and wetlands. Perhaps washing our hands could become a ritual. As the water cleanses dirt, it refreshes and purifies. Precisely in this moment of washing our hands, as water flows over us into the sink, we could take some responsibility upon ourselves and give water some attention. Water circulates through the world. What flows over our hands is in the river within hours, in the sea within days, and perhaps carried through the air to distant places soon after that. Washing hands is a seconds-long meditation on our global impact and responsibility, connecting to the whole world from the bathroom.

Image Just Stop Oil action in June 2023, Photo: Just Stop Oil Press Media

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