My body thirsts for water. My wife always tells me that I need to drink more water. I ignore her for the most part, as I would rather drink more beer or Diet Dr. Pepper. Yet, I have been ignoring the call to drink more water since I was a little boy. My football, basketball, baseball, and soccer coaches always implored me to drink plenty of water. My mom even made me drink a gallon of water each day when I was going through two-a-day practices in high school. I know that my body needs water to survive and that it helps my body function better. However, I take it for granted because it is always there. The thought of it not being there never crosses my mind. When I say “I thirst” I rarely mean it in the literal sense; maybe I just want another Diet Dr. Pepper because it tastes good. Yet, there is a bigger picture that I have not seen before. Water is the essence of the body and the body is being taken over by corporations seeking profit maximization. This is the epitome of body politics.
I thirst. (Quick note: The point here is not to discuss Jesus or my interpretation of Jesus and his teachings. Rather, I seek to entertain the possibility that “I thirst” carries a legacy today that means more than water.) The passion of Christ, as described in the Gospel according to John, is completed when Jesus, hanging on the cross, proclaims, “I thirst.” He was not talking quite literally about wanting water. In fact, he was given vinegar off of a hyssop, hardly something we would consider a quencher of thirst. Jesus is talking about his thirst for setting people’s souls free in all iterations of the word free. Yet, today we are hardly free. The lack of freedom within our world is accentuated in the exclusion of free water and the toll not having water takes on the body and spirit. Privatizing water is not what Jesus was talking about when he said that he wanted to set people’s souls free.
We thirst for water. Richard Raznigov (http://www.truth-out.org/benign-lucifer-privatization-water/1329057581) recently wrote a piece discussing how corporations are privatizing water at the expense of millions of lives. He details how corporations like Coca-Cola and the World Bank, acting as the operating arm of the largest U.S. banks, are seizing control of the water supplies in third world countries. They lay pipes and tell a story about how the people would not have water at all if it were not for the good corporations that provide it to them; corporate social responsibility in its finest form, no doubt. Yet, this does not tell the whole story. There have been massive uprisings protesting the privatization of water and the resultant deaths have painted a portrait of unforeseen terror that we turn our backs on. Ray Lamontagne’s discussion of worldly oppression in his interview before a live recording of “Hold you in my arms” details how we turn our backs on other citizens:
I just think a lot of people back home, maybe here as well, seemed to be tuned off, seem to be not conscious about a lot of things. Maybe it’s always been like that, I don’t know, I don’t know. You go to work, you do your, ya know, robot bit for the day, you come home, you turn the TV on, you hypnotize yourself for 4, 5, 6 hours, you go to bed, you get up and do the same thing. It’s just a crazy world that’s all. It’s crazy, I don’t understand it. I’m just aware of it, that’s all. I guess what’s happening in other parts of the world has to come to your part of the world before you start to wake up.
Unfortunately, this terror is largely a result of laws and a market perspective employed by the United States. We need to wake up and take notice.
I thirst to separate from the market model. This privatization of water is part of a larger symptom plaguing our world. That is the problem of the market model (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006). The market model takes the perspective that the only responsibility of a corporation is to maximize profit for shareholders. As illustrated in the film The Corporation, companies are legally mandated to make decisions based on what is best for their shareholders. Stop and think about that for a second. Legally in the United States, companies are obligated to put profit before human beings. Not only is this the case, but we as citizens vegetate on our ideologies and allow this type of power structure to proliferate. Millions of people die because of various diseases attributed to lack of water, and it is our structure that makes this possible. The worst part is that it is not getting any better. Corporations control bodies, knowledge, and time. Yet, we do nothing to stop this. We need to care.
I thirst for an answer. The market model does not just affect culture; it affects the individual as well. Bodies in the market model are just pawns to feed the wealthy elite. Our physical bodies are affected by the political structures we inhabit. The body of Christ was used by the church elite at the time to make an example of those who dare question the structure of society. Today, the body of Christ and the ideologies it is said to represent are paradoxically used as tools to support the corporations who are now equivalent to the church elite. We are told that the corporations are helping the bodies of the poor receive the water they need. From a market model perspective, corporations are allowed to act as Gods, deciding which bodies are worth keeping and which ones are dispensable. Yet, one can hardly believe this is what Jesus meant when he said “I thirst.” He was talking about all of society, not a select group of individuals. It is time for us to wake up and stop prioritizing one body over the other. Before we know it, water could be privatized for us and I am willing to bet that we will care, then.
I thirst for a people that are able to confront the demons that plague our society
I thirst for the ability to not turn a blind eye
I thirst for providing people with sustenance
I thirst for an America that will put people first
I thirst for leaders that will stand up to the market model
I thirst for the ability to appreciate all that I have been given
I thirst that the individual’s harmed by corporations will see their redemption
I thirst that I will be able to participate in providing water to those in need