Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 5, 2014

Charles Romans: Utopia is under construction: 02/06/14

Charles Romans
The Independent

ASHLAND — Life is hard — even John Wayne said so. We all know that life can be hard and that there are any number of things that can go wrong in everyone’s lives to make it even more difficult.  

Most days we can readily sympathize with the plight of others because theirs is similar to our own. We make allowances for Murphy’s Law (Anything that can go wrong, Will go wrong) and do our best to move forward. But, it’s hard to maintain any sort of perspective or “philosophical detachment” when the basic necessities are pulled out from under our feet like a rug on a slick floor.

 It is during those times when everything seems to be going wrong that it is hard to remember how good we really have it. Problems in this country today should never be trivialized; but regardless of what we might think of the current political or economic condition, we need to understand just how good life is in the United States of America. There is a reason (many, actually) why people are trying desperately to get into this country by both legal and illegal means. And there are also reasons why, certain celebrity threats notwithstanding, no one is trying to get out.

The damage caused by the polar vortex, which dumped unnaturally frigid conditions on the area, left huge areas without electric and safe drinking water. Those two things, especially the water, are things that we take for granted and expect to have in an unlimited supply. In this country that expectation is reasonable, but in other countries not so much.

Organizations like Action Against Hunger state that more than a billion people on the planet (there are between 6 and 7 billion of us) don’t have clean drinking water. Ever. And a third of the world’s population doesn’t even have basic plumbing — which means no clean water and no toilets. This, of course, affects basic health and hygiene, and dysentery (which results from improper waste disposal) is rampant. More people have died of dysentery than the casualties in all the major wars, but thankfully that problem isn’t at the epidemic proportions in this country as it is elsewhere.

The recent chemical spill which polluted the water system in West Virginia was deplorable, and those affected have every right to be upset and threaten lawsuits.

The damage caused by the polar conditions put people’s health at risk in several counties in Kentucky as well and everyone affected has the right to be upset. But, along with the problems our area faced, there was one thing we could be sure of; we might not have known when — and certainly it wasn’t soon enough — but we could be sure that the water would flow again.

And though some of us had to wait a long time to use them properly, all of our indoor plumbing included a toilet.

CHARLES ROMANS is a freelance writer living in Greenup County.