Water has various types of value: biological, as the foundation of life; social, because it is a good that requires social, symbolic and spiritual control, because it is considered a vital and sacred element in the various cultures and scenic and tourist, due to its beauty; politics and power according to the management and control exercised over it; poetic and artistic, which is reflected in songs and poetry; health, because it is essential for life and therefore should not be contaminated; ecological, since all forms of life have the right to it.
Water has a strong symbolism and a sacred dimension in cultures from various dimensions and meanings of human life. In all religions and spiritual traditions, water has a rich meaning that surpasses its material reality. Water fundamentally symbolizes life. In most of the myths of the creation of the world, water represents the source of life and divine energy of the fertility of the earth and living beings. The great religions and spiritual paths express their charm by the waters through cosmic rites, initiation and purification.
In great cultures, water has different meanings. For the Egyptians, water is closely linked to the idea of resuscitation. For the Greeks, water has the double meaning of life and death. Asian and African peoples have it as part of the divinities; the sources are sacred or venerated and are used as a purifying element. One of the best known goddesses in Afro religions is the goddess Iemanja, who for believers is the queen and goddess of the waters, an expression of the divine presence.
In most religions, water as a sacred gift has a meaning of purification, renewal, liberation, fertility and abundance. The element of water is present, sanctifying, sacralizing, internalizing creeds and ancestral cultures. In general in religions, water is used in initiation or baptism rites.
Water belongs to the symbolic heritage of all cultures and religions
Throughout the planet, the human being projects onto the water the realization of his hopes and fears, the promise of life and the threat of death. The water carries all this; droughts and floods are signs of the difficulty of controlling water power.
For many indigenous peoples, water is a gift of the divinities, it is the home of the spirits; for these peoples, water is sacred; Many of its traditions affirm in its founding myths that the human being was made or created from water, or else, came out of the water for the earth, in order to take care of nature. Other traditions believe that water is the point of relationship between heaven and earth; the human and the divine.
Christianity, in the encounter with other cultures and traditions was collecting a great wealth of rites and beliefs related to water. The oldest Christian temples contained a water fountain or an internal pool. In the sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem there was a fountain symbolizing the life given by God and the Churches were built around the water of baptism and the stone of the tomb of the martyrs on which the Lord’s Supper was celebrated.
For some of the Pentecostal Churches, the river in which the faithful are baptized constitutes a true temple. As in the Eastern religions, many Christian pilgrimage sanctuaries and great faith movements were born linked to sources, rivers and lakes.
We are not going to find a relationship of loving listening and harmonious coexistence with water in the current capitalist and neoliberal system, and yes, in the great religious traditions and ancient cultures with their writings and rites.
The mysticism and spirituality of water have their deepest motivation in the defense of life; since there is no life without water and all forms of life depend on it. In this way, water acquires a vital and sacred value: common good, patrimony of humanity and the right of all. Therefore, no one can claim ownership of the water, preventing access to water for humans and, in general, for all living beings. Water is a gift from God for all living beings regardless of its value in itself.
We have a great challenge; the religious and spiritual traditions from the deep conscience present the water to us as the own matrix, the own root of the life or its central nucleus; then it is a tragedy that we daughters and sons of the water, like wild beasts, set out to devour our own maternal source.
The sources of life are threatened; the death of the earth, the air and the waters will be our own death; For this reason, a deep spiritual conversion is necessary, which is manifested in changes and transformations in our mentality, customs and ways of living both personally, socially, and politically.
Our theological tradition regards the universe as the temple of God; everything in Him is sacred; For this reason, the ecological and environmental problem itself, like that of water, has to do with spirituality.
Communion with the universe should lead us to an attitude of deep respect with the “house’s logic” (ecology), from the internal ecology that is the deep unity of the person, to the feeling that all things are part of me own body if I am in communion with them. Gratuity, like that of a water source that can be seen in the stream and, in the river, that goes to the sea and that turns into a cloud.
The defense of water as the heritage of the peoples of the world
Human societies have the power to reduce the pressures we are putting on the planet’s natural resources. We are spending more than we have: natural capital and human well-being. To achieve this, however, “radical changes” are required in the way nature is treated “at all levels of decision-making”, and new forms of cooperation between governments, companies and society.
It is urgent and necessary to defend water as a heritage of all humanity, through specific actions, laws and public policies that prevent its privatization and that punish those who pollute and destroy nature. For this reason, we must change the concept of water resources to heritage, recognizing water as a right.
It is necessary to introduce the new water culture in the country, understood as the result of a set of dimensions related to different levels of personality (values, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, feelings and behaviors) and which are expressed in the form of opinions that Issues the community on this topic. These opinions vary depending on the demographic characteristics of the population (age, sex, educational level), as well as social and structural variables (occupation, income levels), situation (habitat, environment and place of residence or ideological (ecological conscience and political ideology), in such a way that diverse groups can be distinguished with respect to the culture of water.
The Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff, argues that around water it is necessary to promote a world social pact that does not exist. Fight closely against privatization. There is a frantic run by transnational corporations towards privatization, because they know that whoever controls water controls life and whoever controls life has power. We must prevent water from entering the market as just another product. We must confront the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, who call for the privatization of this vital element as a condition for assigning credits to the weakest countries. We have to imitate the indigenous Bolivians who made the French transnational companies run away.
The defense of water as a universal right, and as a good of all human kind depends on the organization of society that should carry out this action as a defense of life and not as the possibility that a few do business with it.
What is loved is preserved and only what is known is loved. This naturally leads us to understand in another way the imperative need for environmental awareness and education, such as the importance of laws that end impunity for those who destroy nature.
How to face hydro-mafias and avoid water wars? In the first place, by demolishing the materialistic understanding that underlies the logic of water privatizations. This, when considering all merchandise, destroys any ethical, ecological and spiritual sentiment directly linked to water. In the second place, by rescuing the original meaning of water as the matrix of all life forms on Earth. Water, like life, should never be turned into merchandise. In the third place, by creating -as many are already proposing- the awareness that a necessary global pact must be made on the issue of water since everyone needs it to live. Finally, in the name of this planetary consciousness, no right should be granted to privatize water. She must be excluded from global trade negotiations.
The drinking water crisis is so acute, especially for some countries, that it demands a radical transformation in water conservation, in rescuing wasted water and in regenerating contaminated water. Since the planetary crisis requires a short-term planetary solution.
On the other hand, we cannot maintain the naive conception that since water is a gift from God, it will never be lacking and neither can we accept the dominant materialist and utilitarian tendency of seeing water predominantly as a scarce good or an economic good and therefore expensive. .
Our conscience must wake up to the human drama and face it from an ethical position of co-responsibility, universal cooperation or solidarity and care. Since water is a global common good, the guarantee of its access with quality for all and all is the responsibility of both individual and collective, hopefully with a democratic management.
Water belongs to life and it is up to humanity to ensure its collective management in the sense of use, conservation and protection with respect for the right to life for all human beings and other living species, as well as for future generations. .
Although it is true that community participation has been increasing in the drinking water and basic sanitation processes, there is still a long way to go to generate sufficient management capacity in the communities to guarantee the functioning and sustainability of the systems, especially when they are themselves who must assume the immense responsibility of managing them. It is necessary to overcome the traditional conceptions of development, where the communities still participate as the labor force, to reduce costs.
Community participation must be given to analyze, do and decide. Therefore, the activities currently include information, education, strengthening the initiative, inspection, consultation, decision-making, and management in all phases of the project. Community participation goes beyond simply learning about development plans. It also goes beyond just taking into account the knowledge of the local community and its priorities.
This means that the community, the planners and the staff, have a dialogue where the priorities and ideas of the community help shape the projects. This process can lead to participation where the community shares authority and true power throughout the development cycle. In community participation, the concept of development is a process based on man and not on objects, and considers communities as managers of their own development.