Recently my husband and I were given a new calling to teach the 6-7 year old Primary class A few weeks ago, we had an interesting experience while we were teaching a lesson about the sacrament. The lesson manual coached us to tell the story from the Book of Mormon about how Jesus gave the Nephites the sacrament. When I was telling the children about this story, I talked about how Jesus blessed some wine as part of the sacrament. Although I didn’t really dwell on it all that much, the children reacted very strongly to this idea: “Jesus gave the Nephites WINE!? WHAT!?” I suppose this caused a little bit of cognitive dissonance since they had been taught all their life that wine was a bad thing. How could Jesus—the very symbol of holiness—give the Nephites something that they had been taught was bad—and as part of a sacred ordinance, too?
Fortunately, a little bit of knowledge about water treatment processes helped to calm their fears. My husband and I explained that people living in ancient America (or even in Joseph Smith’s time) didn’t have the advanced water purification techniques that we have today. Putting a little bit of alcohol into water would help kill off some of the harmful microbes that could cause illness. In fact, in Joseph Smith’s day it would have been safer to drink wine instead of water because their water sources were often impure. But now that we know more about germ theory, we’ve developed more advanced water purification techniques. And so water is much safer (and healthier) for all of us to drink. That seemed to help the kids understand the scripture story a little better.
This experience made me reflect on how important it is to get a deeper understanding of the processes through which humans interact with (and consume) nature. One of the unfortunate side effects of modernization is that it has made these processes somewhat invisible to us, which makes us take them for granted. I’m not sure we really understand the complex processes through which our food or water is delivered to us—perhaps because we figure that it’s somebody else’s job to worry about it.
For me personally, I think I vaguely understand how water gets from the nearby mountain range to my faucet, but I don’t really know how the whole process works. If I knew more about my water source, would it change the way I consume it? At the very least, would it change the way I think or feel about it? My hunch is that it would.
So, I’m tired of thinking about the water I drink as “someone else’s job to worry about.” I’m going to see if I can figure out where my water comes from over the next couple of months. I’m going to make some phone calls and do a little bit of research to figure out where my water comes from. I have a feeling it’s going to be somewhat enlightening. I’ll report back what I learn here on this blog, so stay tuned!