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Created: May 9, 2003
Latest Update: May 9, 2003

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Site Teaching Modules The Privatization of Water: "I Had No Idea!"

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, May 2003.
"Fair use" encouraged.

On Thursday, May 8, 2003, Sabrina Johnson wrote:

These comments are in response to Topic of the Week, May 5, 2003 :Lived Experience in the Water of a Global Stage

Subject: Bolivia vs. Bechtel (Sabrina Johnson)

I think that it is sick when people are forced to pay for something that Godgave free. Why is it so important to starve people over making money? There was a quote that said,

"A people blessed by the earth with one of the largest single sources of mineral wealth in history of the planet ended up the poorest nation in South Africa". Can you site the source of that quote? If so, plese do. jeanne

It amazes me how big business can come in and completely tear down a country and starve its people in the process. This really makes me angry. What about human life? These people are made to pay high prices for water just to save their families. They are actually paying 200% more for water (200% more than what?). In my opinion, these people were bullied into giving up their water rights. Big business has always been the reason for people losing their land. It's time that someone put a stop to it; but who will be bold enough to do it? Everything seems to be about money in this world.

Sometimes, I feel that this is a sad place to live in. What will happen 100 years from now when everything is bought up? What will our society pay for water, gas and other things that seemed to be so precious to us? Will we be able to feed our children and survive in that day?

On Friday, May 9, 2003, jeanne responded:

Sabrina, your message reflects well the feelings that this topic evoked for you. That tells me that I'm winning on illocutionary discourse, that you're feeling empathy for those whose water has been privatized from under them, and that you are able to imagine the horrors of such results in our own lived experience.

This stage of awareness is an essential step. As Hal Pepinsky says in his Peacemaking Primer, we can't really begin to have meaningful illocutionary discussions until we release the anger and recognize that alternative means of communication with the Other are opening up.

I think your message to me indicates a genuine willingness on your part to listen to the validity claims of those whose water is about to be privatized, or those who are battling for the return of their rights to water. Until now, when we have thought of human rights, we have thought prinicipally of political rights: right to dissent, right to protest, right to speak freely in the search for freedom and justice, rights of protection against torture and killing and exploitatiion. But now we are having to rething these issues. Now we need to reconsider the right to land and to water.

On Thursday, May 8, 2003, Mandy Unversagt wrote:

Subject: global water grab

That's on the brink of astonishing! The idea that GOVERNMENTS are aware of the global need for water, and yet, they still see fit to make a profit by selling to major corporations or charging the poor an administration fee.

"The Alchemy of Water" - that was the title of one of the articles on that website. I find that very interesting! The idea that we can take something and turn it into gold, take something that is a basic right to all and turn it into a privilege for those who can afford it.

I first learned of "alchemy" in a race class here at Dominguez. The Alchemy of Race occurred to black immigrants. They were treated like trash and tossed aside until America needed them to stand against newer, irish immigrants. The color of their skin became a matter of hue and some of them were transformed into something useful. And the underlying theme here? Power! Who has got it and how they are gonna keep it!

I had no idea.

Amanda Unverzagt

On Friday, May 9, 2003, jeanne responded:

"I had no idea." And that, Mandy, is probably the most significant first step of illocutionary discourse, the recognition of how little we do actually know when it comes to the lived experiences of Others distant from our own cultural scene. Check out the "rights" analysis that Patricia Williams does in Alchemy of Race.