Monday, March 28, 2011

Lenten Sacrifices, Water, and the News

This week leaves me dizzy with world news on global conflict. Official wars in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, unofficial wars in countless corners of the world, attacks on villagers in mining communities in El Salvador, another election in Canada, air attacks in Gaza, and sex abuse cases in Philadelphia. Then there was Earth Day reminding us of the constant threat of self-annihilation through greed and apathy. And who knows what we haven’t even heard about?

The news, any day, any week, reminds me that life is fragile, and that on a personal level, prayer is essential. Without the peace of reflection, the centring on God’s presence that Lent calls us to, the only possibility would be to dig my head in the sand and ignore all social responsibility.

That of course, is unacceptable. The Lenten season calls us to live intentionally, however difficult that may be. For myself, several things demand attention, and sifting through the different demands hasn’t been easy. In the end I set myself the Lenten goal of growing my personal knowledge about the water bottle industry and investigating the ways in which it operates both in North America and abroad. The recent movie ‘Tapped’ shows that companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle hold little regard for the ecosystems, political structures, or lives of the people in the places where they collect their water. Water, symbol of our baptism, source of our life, is more precious than oil.

I don’t drink bottled water very often, but I do like pop. So for Lent, I gave up soft drinks. It hasn’t been easy. By 1:00pm on the first few days, I was busily rationalizing why I could/should break my resolve, calm my nerves, and have a pop. I don’t drink coffee either, so soft drinks were my primary source of caffeine. My poor husband, children and colleagues demonstrated profound patience in the early days. But now that the cravings have subsided, I feel better.

I hope that I don’t go back to drinking soft drinks. The more I learn of the world’s water issues, the stronger my resolve becomes. There is this connection between the large issues of the world and the small issues that we deal with daily. Will the next war be fought over water? Corporations need to be held to account by the choices we make. So do governments. So do religious hierarchies. Whatever Lenten sacrifice you choose to make, may it enrich not only your personal life, but the life of the world.

ADDENDUM: Next week, Americans will gather in Washington DC to call for the closing of the School of the Americas (see blog post, December 11, below). They will fast for a week, and peacefully proclaim the need for justice in corporate and military ethics. My thoughts and prayers go out to them as they prepare for this event.

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