Pull the Lever
I’ve grown up drinking out of a hose, straight from the spicket.
I also have recently learned that “spicket” isn’t a real word. For the sake of my childhood self’s sanity, I’m going to keep using this word, however to clarify, it is synonymous to a faucet or hose nozzle.
The fact that I can say these words, that I have grown up drinking out of a spicket, is extremely fascinating to me. I am so fortunate to have grown up doing this germ-infested, unsanitary, gross and childish act.
I picture this: A hot summer day, running through the sprinkler, seeing my reflection in the puddle that I made as a result of a homemade slip-n-slide. If only I knew then what I know now, that it is a privilege to be able to make out the features of my face in the reflection of a self-produced puddle. I wish I knew an ounce of the fact that this water is dirt free and transparent and easy to surrender, but not common around the world. When I was young and blissfully unaware, who knew that water isn’t naturally squeezed from a magic rubber tube on command?
Recently, I have been really interested in Kenyan lifestyle. This past week I read a National Geographic article that had really grabbed my attention.
The lives of the women of Kenya revolve around water and this constant search for a steady source. They carry 80 pounds of water on their backs, through mountains and deserts and through all types of weather and health conditions. These treks can range from hours to days, wearing women down physically and mentally and putting them at risk for disease and attack.
There are many ways that Kenyans receive their water. They use a method called a “singing well,” which is where water is passed hand-to-hand from the earth or a riverbed.
This is the lifestyle of so many women in developing countries.
What makes us, Americans, so superior that we abuse water usage to make our landscapes greener? We use water to make our invasive but ~VISUALLY APPEALING~ plants and flowers a little brighter? How did society come to this, knowing (or perhaps NOT knowing, as ignorant as the American culture can be) that countries like Kenya are dedicating their lives to finding capable water sources just to live??
While reading this article, I had a flashback on a written piece that Jedidiah Jenkins, a writer, blogger, and explorer, had produced a little while back (February 1st, 2017). Jedidiah presented the reader with two situations, and claimed it was his rendition of a famous thought experiment. Here’s the scenario:
“Imagine you’re watching a train speed down the track from a bridge above it. Up ahead are five unsuspecting innocent people that will be run over. But in front of you is a lever. If you pull it, it’ll switch the track to a different one… where only one unsuspecting innocent person is standing. Would you pull the lever, effectively killing the one guy to save the five, or do nothing at all? 9 out of 10 people would pull it.
What gets interesting is a slight change in the setup. Same scenario, but this time there’s no track switch. Instead, you’re standing on the bridge over the tracks next to the stranger. Down the way, the five people are doomed. If you push the stranger, he’d land on the tracks and stop the train. Saving five lives. Would you push him? 9 out of 10 people say no. Hell no.”
Looking at this, both scenarios have the same cost of life; the only difference is the perspective and source of how the killing is done.
Jenkins goes on, “Psychologists have observed that humans are deeply averse to violence when it’s face to face. We have a deep instinct against it. But, one step removed, and that instinct is almost completely diminished.”
I really enjoyed this article and have shared it with friends and family, receiving the same mind-boggling reactions. I feel as though this scenario can connect with many situations.
It almost parallels with this idea of mine: would you drink a clean glass of ice water on your sofa? Yeah, sure, no problem! Yum! Now, would you drink a clean glass of ice water sitting adjacent to these Kenyan women, looking into their eyes, knowing that that is all they strive to achieve from waking up in the morning until the sun goes down and they are forced to stop their voyage?
Would you have a plush green lawn surrounding your home, if your next door neighbor was the typical landscape of a Kenyan village? Where water must be searched for and dug from the ground?
The lever here is the same as the scenario that Jedidiah proposed. We all abuse water, knowing about these less fortunate conditions in areas around the world. However, imagine looking at these less fortunate people in the eyes. Imagine looking at this stranger standing next to you above the train tracks, knowing that you are about to push him/her to their death.
Water conservation is so simple, and even a little bit can go a long way. Everyday we can decrease water usage by taking shorter showers, flushing only when necessary, and catching and reusing rainwater. Its absurd to me that Americans have this idea that having a plush lawn is a normalcy, when people around the world are looking to quench their sandpaper tongues. Water should be collected, but not specifically produced just to result in being sucked into the ground.
I think with this idea, we should increase the exposure that Americans have to these hardships around the world. Maybe then, instead of seeing their childhood selves in a self-made puddle in their backyard, they will see the eyes of a tired, thirsty Kenyan woman in search of the nutrients for herself and her family in order to see another day.