“Mother Ganga: Grace of the Water – She Forgives”, The Pioneer
The grace of water is that it keeps flowing. Stagnant water dies quickly. The nature of live, fresh, life-giving water is its movement. In that movement there is forgiveness. The trash I toss nonchalantly into Ganga here, in this moment, is replaced in the next moment by fresh, clean, unpolluted water. My trash has been carried downstream, and I—here in this spot in this moment—am given another chance. No constant reminders of my trespass, no immediate dire consequences, each moment is new. Of course, my brothers and sisters downstream are reaping the bitter fruit of my trespass, are drinking and bathing in my wanton disregard; however, that moment is fleeting, even downstream. The river forgives. She keeps moving, keeps flowing, keeps providing us with a fresh, clean slate as She pours out of the glacier.
There is still time. The molecules of water locked into the Gaumukh glacier and the Himalayan snow cover are still clean and pure. The water saturated with our pollution of yesterday will empty into the Bay of Bengal tomorrow and merge into the mighty ocean by the day after. Fields and crops irrigated by toxins will take longer to recover, but a heavy monsoon can easily carry away a huge amount of polluted topsoil. Those who have died and those on their deathbed from illnesses carried upon Ganga’s waters can, of course, not be restored, but next year’s deaths can be prevented.
Like a mother upon whom her sick child has vomited, our waters have been defiled by our illnesses of near-sightedness, of greed, of myopia, of sloth, of idleness. Like that mother, our waters will forgive us. However, we must stand up, brush ourselves off, wipe our Mother’s sullied brow and heal ourselves of the diseases that are devastating our water bodies, our planet and ultimately our own lives.
The answers are actually more simple than we realize, or more simple than we want to realize. Complexity absolves us of responsibility. Complexity requires new infrastructure, new systems, the passing of legislation and the enforcement of legislation passed. For those of us without a personal sphere of influence affecting municipalities, cities and states, we shrug our shoulders resignedly and say, “Someone really should do something.”
Simplicity, on the other hand, is both empowering and also frightening. If I could make a difference, why am I not? Simplicity holds the mirror of responsibility uncomfortably close to our own faces. Today, however, we cannot afford to turn away. The world today requires us to look into that mirror, not with guilt, not with disdain, not with judgment, but simply with awareness of what we could and should be doing. The world today requires us to not only connect on facebook and twitter, to not simply count our global presence by the number of “friends” or “followers” we have, but to truly and deeply take the world into our heart. It is not easy. The suffering is vast and seemingly infinite. We naturally feel helpless and overwhelmed; hence the reaction is to shut ourselves down, to once again narrow that circle so that we may not be face to face with such pain. However, we can’t do that anymore. Politically, environmentally, socially—the world of today requires us to be present and aware even with that which seems out of our control and beyond our reach. We will find that so much more than we thought is within our power to change. Perhaps we can’t change entire industries, or entire government systems, but every choice we make of what to purchase, what to wear, and what to eat has an absolutely direct and powerful impact upon life situations for children dying of starvation, pre-pubescent girls and boys working eighteen or twenty-hour days in toxic sweatshops, cotton pickers suffering from pesticide induced cancers, suicidal farmers, and upon the health and balance of the water, the air and the land of Mother Earth.