In thinking about water policy for El Salvador, it is worth considering the centrality of water to human existence. From a speech of Monseñor Eduardo Alas, Bishop of the Diocese of Chalatenango, at the first meeting of the National Forum for the Defense of the Sustainability and Right to Water on July 14, 2006:
Water is a gift from God, a gift from God from which life originates. Water is an element with creative power. Year after year, we witness a patented miracle. When the first rainstorm falls, everything is dead, dry. When the first storm comes, we then notice that many living things were dead. It is until the first storm that the earth brings forth life once again. What has happened? Water has arrived! Water is life and the generator of life.
Among all of the natural resources, that which is most ours is water. We are ourselves principally made of water. I am water. How much water is there in each one of us! We are water. Take the water out of us and we die. It is the most vital thing that I have in my body. If we don’t have water, then we don’t have life.
It’s important that we be aware of this reality so that we can start to see this liquid with other eyes. To see if we are valuing this element, water, until we are able to treat it with respect, because water is one of the most abused resources. We waste it, let it run and until recently we gave it away.
We have not placed enough value on water and so we do not respect it. We are unable to understand the value that it has for our own lives and for all living things. So then, in not valuing water we underestimate it and we pollute it, poison it, waste it and let it be lost, abusing it.
We do not allow water the physical space to spring out of the core of the earth or rain down from heaven. We do not allow it to pass through this process.
To act against water is to act against life and life is sacred.
The first thing that we must do is become conscientious and value this vital element. But…are we really aware that we need this urgently? We can not play around with these issues, nor can we treat them lightly, nor make these issues fashionable, something that is simply on the national or international agenda right now.
It’s not a fashionable issue; it’s an exclusive issue because it is vital. We should pass from words to awareness and really understand the issue, so that we are not playing with water, so that we are not just using the issue.
We need to take a stance because there are many discourses and actions asking for water, but the question really is, am I ready to start to change my attitude towards this vital liquid and make a true and serious commitment and not use it to win votes or favor or money?
We are playing with life. We must make a commitment to see what can be done, what alliances we can build to work together with a valid, lasting and sustainable response, and to find the methods that give real and viable results.
Read the rest of the homily here. Consider as well the Statement of World Council of Churches -- Water for Life