Monday, November 23, 2015

Clean Water - something to be thankful for

This week here in the US we celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a nationally recognized holiday originally set aside for the nations' citizens to give thanks for the blessings we have received individually and collectively.

One of the ways we show our thankfulness is by consuming copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes with gravy, corn on the cob, butternut squash, candied yams, green been casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

For Thanksgiving in 2014, Americans spent $2.9 billion, ate 51 million turkeys, and gained a collective 765 million pounds. Hey, what can you say, we're a grateful people.

This year I thought I might share one of the things I am truly thankful for...


I suppose you could consider how much weight you gained over the holiday as "change" but that's not the kind of change that I'm talking about.

There can be no growth without change. I think we all know and understand this principle intellectually, but I think it's also important to consider what it means literally.

Why is it that we don't like change?

Is it that we don't like change or the idea of what the change represents?

I found the following letter to the editor from the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane Washington dated December 8, 1967 titled, "Change Feared":

Clearly the former Governor had some very valid concerns especially regarding the "breakneck speed" of 15 miles per hour at which these early locomotives traveled and the terrifying nature of these "engines" which will frighten women and children. One wonders how we managed to adapt to the enormous speeds and frightening nature of trains.

Despite the fears of some, consider a few examples of what the introduction of the railroad actually meant to this country:
  • After the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, for the first time the nation was connected from east coast to west coast. Before the railroad, travel from New York to California took up to six months at a cost of around $1000. The railroad reduced the travel time to one week and the cost to $150.
  • Within just 10 years of its completion the railroad moved $50 million in freight from coast to coast every year.
  • The transcontinental railroad opened up vast new areas for settlers to populate as roads spider webbed out from rail lines across the US.
The point is that there is no growth without change.

While I think its easy for us to look at progress in terms of those things that benefit us all collectively such as:
  • Indoor plumbing - hey who isn't happy they don't have to use an outhouse everyday or thankful to have running water indoors?  
  • Electricity - unless you are from an Amish community you have to be thankful for this. I'm not picking on the Amish, I'm just sayin'.
  • Automobiles - enough said.
You get the point. 

One area we are all effected by is clean water. 

I'm no fan of unchecked government that attempts to govern every aspect of American lives.  

But you know, I'm also no fan of unchecked industry that can and has wreaked havoc on our environment.

Do you remember the Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969? That was just the last one and the one that finally drew enough attention to the issue of water pollution to drive congress to pass legislation that would later become known as the Clean Water Act.

There were actually 13 fires on the Cuyahoga river, the first of which happened in 1868, followed later by the largest and most expensive in 1952. 

While these fires were unfortunate, they did lead to change. Important and necessary change. But, over 100 years passed from the first fire to the last before change happened.  

Why did it take so long?

The obvious answer would seem to be that, for whatever reason, we just don't like change.

But I can honestly say that I am thankful for this kind of change which has benefited us all collectively with clean rivers and lakes and arguably the best wastewater collection and fresh water delivery systems in the world. 

While we all express our appreciation for the many blessings we have individually and collectively, this Thanksgiving one of the blessings I'm adding to my list is clean water.

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Indeed for the billions who still lack them, life's greatest luxuries have nothing to do with smart phones, trophy homes, fancy cars and flat screens. They are the faucet, the toilet, and the light switch!. ;-)