world water day: making the right decisions

today is is world water day. in reading about it, i found that since 2000, canada has held the dubious record to be the only country at world water forums to vote against a UN resolution to promote the right to water, stating: “canada does not accept that there is a right to drinking water and sanitation.”

like chris tindal, i did a double take when i read that, and immediately started googling around to find disconfirmation of that statement.

nope. nothing. that’s exactly what they said. to top it off, at the same time, canada is happily privatizing our precious water resources.

water, light and air are the basic elements that create and sustain all life forms. what good are any other rights if a person cannot be assured that they will have access to water? what makes a government so shortsighted to deny such a very basic right?

whatever the reasons are, they are rooted in politics. and politics, ultimately, is rooted in human nature.

what is it in human nature that prompts us to make such shortsighted, bizarre choices? what might the decision process in this situation have been? let’s try this on for size:

“if we declare that clean water and sanitation is a right, then corporation X, to whom we are about to sell the right to use water resource Y, will retreat their offer, and we won’t get $100 billion they out of the deal. therefore, we will deny that access to clean water is a right.”

this decision is driven by fear (they will retreat their offer), greed (we want the money) and a desire for instant gratification (we can get the money now, and we don’t care about/comprehend the longer-term consequences). greed is driven by fear and instant gratification, too: “if i don’t get/keep these resources now, who knows if i’ll ever have them?”

maybe it can all be summed up to conclude that such faulty decisions are made because of a lack of trust that enough resources (including comfort, good relationships, etc.) will be available in the time between making the right decision and enjoying long-term gratification.

it is not only politicians who make such bad decisions. driven by fear, instant gratification and consequently distrust that “all shall be well and all manners of things shall be well“, we make unhelpful and unhealthy decisions all the time. we gobble down a hamburger so we won’t be five minutes late for a meeting. afraid of a possible confrontation with our mate, we plunk ourselves down in front of the TV for hours, rather than sitting down for a conversation. it happens all the time.

maybe, just maybe, if we got more used to making life-sustaining decisions in our personal lives more often, we will become less tolerant of our politicians’ bad decisions?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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