Commentary by John Paul

The recent water crisis in Chapel Hill Carrboro brought several things to mind. First, how interconnected and fragile our infrastructure can be.  A mishap in the addition of a chemical in the water purification process led to an order for thousands of people to not use water, portable toilets across campus, moving a basketball game to Greensboro, and significant economic disruption for area restaurants and hotels.

A more important insight was realizing how we take for granted our automatic access to plentiful and clean water.  Twenty-four hours denial of that access was surprisingly inconvenient but hardly earth-shaking to our life here in Chapel Hill.  Wouldn’t it be more sensible to reflect on the fact that over 600 million people in the world are without such access 24/7?  Women and children in low resource environments spend endless hours each day fetching not-so-clean water in inadequate quantities.  We have lots to be grateful for, and an obligation, I believe, to at least reflect on how we can help.

Finally, this event points out again the importance of community.  Whenever there is an event like this, more typically an ice storm or a hurricane, we seem to come together in community, in an almost celebratory manner.  But that magic of community is often lost, too soon, as we retreat back into our daily routines and challenges.

I’m left hoping that maybe this time I can come away with a continued awareness of our inter-connectivity, responsibility, and community.

This is John Paul.