Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond movie left my mind reeling with the gripping scenes and countless dead bodies scattered across South America and Europe. It also sparked some reflection on the plight of the world’s poor and people who lived in countries like mine who can identify with the issues of global economic powers and the world’s most disenfranchised peoples in the South.
The story went beyond Bond’s rage and quest for vengeance over the death of his love Vesper. Far beyond that. And a lot of people seemed to have missed it. Of course focusing on Bond’s rage is far easier to deal with than the barely concealed bits of uncomfortable truths in the movie.
In my early post James Bond Movies And Sermons In Colon Panama, written just as filming began in Colon I wondered what sermon illustrations would come from the actual movie. I read two reviews that scoffed at how ridiculous the plot was, for Bond to be after someone trying to steal water. The second reviewer wondered if oil and diamonds had grown stale which left the producers wanting something to write about so they chose water.
Some of my members said the story didn’t make any sense as they didn’t see why anyone would want to steal water. Now having watched the movie, I was pleased to see that Quantum of Solace brought to the fore the long overdue and grossly misunderstood global water crisis.
So is the plot of international economic manipulation and control of the world’s water supply far fetched? No it is not. Back in 2006, the UNDP Human Development Report (download PDF document) warned the world about the social and economic forces that are driving water shortages and marginalizing the poor in agriculture. The report went on to make the following (damning) conclusion:
In the early 21st Century, prospects for human development are threatened by a deepening global water crisis. Debunking the myth that the crisis is the result of scarcity, this report argues poverty, power and inequality are at the heart of the problem. [my emphases]
Discussions about land rights of arable lands and agriculture in the poorest regions of the world, internal displacement of persons because of droughts and famine is linked to water. However, we often hear of conditions that point to changes in the environment such as Deforestation. What is often times left out of the media is the fact that governments in the ‘developing world’ or the South are sometimes forced to act in favour of multinationals and powerful economic interests to turn over necessities like water into private hands.
Ever notice there is no shortage of bottled water on the shelves of our stores and dry taps in many communities in parts of the Caribbean? I’ve lived it so I know what I’m talking about. And in major places like the US water is a product you buy while most people with access to water don’t seem to trust the water in their tap. What a dilemma!
Similarly, the Ecumenical Water Network (EWN) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) observes that;
Public and community control of water supply has drastically diminished over recent decades and years. Increasingly water is treated as a commercial good subject to market conditions. Many cases can be cited where privatisation of water resources has deprived the poor from access to water.
Without water there is no life. And when private interests control water supply for profit then the poor who depend on agriculture suffer the most. They are twice disenfranchized. Soon we have more persons becoming refugees or internally displaced persons. Take Darfur in Sudan, the conflicts in Sudan have long been linked to, and is said to have been sparked by water.
The WCC reporting on the Darfur genocide, cites Ismail Algazouli, an engineer with the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) as saying ‘It all started when the Janjaweed began burning villages, before taking control of the water points.’ Algazouli goes on to explain that the militia, who are believed to have the support of the government, frighten the local people off their land then take possession of the water points. The janjaweed has a lot of livestock, (millions of animals), and finding water for them is not easy.
So did you take notice of the scene in Quantum of Solace when the tap ran dry in the Bolivian desert after the river was backed up and diverted? Here the poor of that part of the country packed their suitcases and began leaving their homes. That’s repeated so many times over across the world. Forced internal migration occurs when water supply dries up and people are forced to move in order to survive.
So yes James Bond took us on a ride across continents at impossible speed. And yes it was thrilling in a way to see him go after the bad guys and gals while I cringed at the next dead body. However, I couldn’t miss what the story is ultimately about – the increasing power of greed and corruption in high places and the stark contrast with the poverty, decay and desperation of the ones who are always being exploited to make someone else fat and happy.
So I while I was saying yes, there is the building Omaira lives. And look, that’s Anna’s apartment. Ohhh do you remember that scene with the accident and the caskets from that funeral home? Oh remember when we watched Bond & Camille walk down that street? Yes…there was that excitement like kids. Feeling proud we were there. [now mind you I was out taking sermon notes now!...hahahah.] But we left the cinema thinking of the many people who really have no access to water or fertile lands simply because someone with more money met another with enough greed and the rest is what is happening around us today.
The dialogue sounded like snippets of just another conspiracy theory. All that talk about destabilizing economies to topple governments in the Caribbean and Latin America. No doubt you scoffed and said how fanciful. Is it? When last you did a little research into the socio-economic and political history of your country? When last did you check out your country’s foreign and economic policy toward other countries? Why not start with Haiti, Cuba and Panama…
A rural Haitian child carries water on her head – how many miles?
So I did get my sermon notes afterall and extra material for a whole Bible study and we don’t have to wait until the next day on poverty or hunger to talk about it. James Bond brought the subject right before us for discussion. So what will you do now?
A Quantum of Solace is what the world’s poorest people long for. And your church can help by raising your voice in advocacy for those who are being denied access to water and arable land. Join other Christians in the Ecumenical Water Network in the fight with governments against the increasing privatization and commercialization of water, and to make clean unpolluted water a life sustaining source freely accessible to all. It is a basic human right, yours and your neighbours’ in far and near places.
Photo Credits – River Chagres Dam by Me
River domestic scene from Sekitar’s collection on Flickr
Haitian child from Lindsay Stark’s Haitian collection
And Daniel Craig? Well I snatched him from can’t recall where:-)