Who is Water?

Water needs to be personified.

I wonder if we’d view water differently if we personified it. I don’t mean to just give it a name but give it the equivalent legal rights as we give individuals.

Think about Canada’s time before a woman was legally declared to be a person. Alberta’s “Famous Five” were petitioners in the groundbreaking Persons Case. Led by judge Emily Murphy, the group included Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby.

The case was heard before the Supreme Court of Canada and later in 1927 decided by the Judicial Council of Britain’s Privy Council (1929), Canada’s highest court. That’s barely 90 years ago that females in Canada were declared to be people!

We’ve never been the same since – and for the better.

With that simple change in perspective, many things became possibilities that were thought impossible. I remember the simple act of hiring a female transit driver was said to bring about the downfall of civilization. Ok, I exaggerate, but not by much. Women couldn’t handle the stress. They were too emotional. And on it went.

A current anecdote is that during the pandemic, nations led by females generally have better outcomes on the number of cases and death rates.

If we didn’t think of women as people, I doubt this would have been the situation. We would never have had the opportunities for them to lead.

By giving water legal rights equivalent to individual rights, we’d see things differently. We’d care about it differently. What happens to it far away matters. Just as we care about how women are treated around the world, we’d care about water anywhere on the planet.

If a river was being polluted, our first thought would not be, “thank goodness we’re upstream.” It would be outrage that water rights were being violated.

Instead of having it valued based on actual cost delivered to your home, it would be priceless. Just as we value human life, regardless of gender.

I admit that the analogy isn’t perfect. Regardless of the imperfections in the concept, I think it moves our thinking toward a better place.

We couldn’t predict in 1929 what the world would look like in 2020, with women being legally equivalent to men. We can’t predict what the world will look like even in 50 years if we gave water the same rights. Who is water?

Please, give it a bit of a think?

My thanks to Ted Talks for inspiring this Blog and to The Canadian Encyclopedia for some background details.

And by the way, the feature image at the top is a very full bird bath.

My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley
Volunteer