Water or lights, take your choice.

A good friend phoned me tonight and posed the question, which would you rather have; electricity or running water?

It’s a choice that none of us want to make.

In the past weeks we’ve had our water shut off on a number of occasions for 8 hours at a time while maintenance was done on the pipes. Over the last year our electricity has been shut off for hours at a time while South Africa’s electricity provider; Eskom, deals with an ageing network and cable thieves.

I point fingers at no one. These are just the the burdens we have to deal with in order to enjoy the lifestyle we have in South Africa.

Back to the idea of water vs. electricity.

Water is the stuff that we need to keep upright, without it we die within 12 days (I’m being generous). I used to think that I’d rather have a working tap than a working light bulb. We can always use gas lights to play the odd game of Scrabble. Perhaps we could learn from our Grandparents and listen to the radio (battery powered) and stop spending our lives in front of the tube.

I’m a bit conflicted, if I don’t shower in the morning I’m a wreck.

But I’m also an information junkie.

Without my access to the websites of NBC, ABC, BBC, CNN, FOX (amongst others, too many to mention), I wouldn’t be able to argue. Without access to information my mind would curl up into the foetal position and die.

I was reading Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” for the fourth time and he described the stars that could be seen in both hemisphere’s; and I thought that maybe the argument about water and electricity was just silly, we should thank whatever benevolent diety that we call God that we’re here at all.

In the first world we’re lucky to have running water, a drink out of a tap on a hot day is one of the greatest gifts that we could ever have. Light at the flick of a switch, warm food, pizza and burgers.

These are all things that make our lives better.

But imagine, if we turned all the lights off, if the cities of the world just stopped shining for one night. Not forever, but for one night a month?

We could show our children the beauty of the night sky, stars and dreams of flying angels, of aliens, of war and peace and tall trees on other planets.

A vast splash of stars across the skies, a spilled twinkle of light, a bright milky spill of universal splendour.

“Look Dad, Venus, Mars, the Man on the Moon.”

“Yes my darling, all for you.”

Maybe we should shut down the grid at least once a month.

Just saying.

For the kids.

And me.

look up, it’s wonderful.

PS: Have a glass of water, it’s on me.


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