November 2001: Volume 43, Number 11
Make an enemy a friend with a clean glass of water
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
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One thing’s certain. When you can’t go any lower, there’s only one place left to go -- up. While consumers and investors remain wary, the economic slide since last summer seems to have bottomed out -- we hope -- with the precipitous drop of U.S. stock markets following terrorist attacks Sept. 11 on the East Coast.
Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 14 percent the first week after New York exchanges reopened Sept. 17, the market rebounded sharply by the time a broad-based U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes against responsible terrorist and Taliban military targets in Afghanistan three weeks later.
The Dow recovered 884 points, or nearly 65 percent, of the 1,369 lost in the first week of trading following the attacks. The Nasdaq composite index, which lost 272 points, rose 106.50, or 7.1 percent, the week leading up to Oct. 7. A Raymond James Financial Services letter to clients, noting similar market action after other national crises, illuminates the trend.
These statistics are selective and don’t predict the future in a world vastly changed since the attacks. Who would have thought the former Soviet Union, China, Germany, Italy, France, Britain and the United States would all be on the same side of any issue, with allies including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan and India. Such coalitions, however, are fragile and maintaining them -- particularly for a sustained effort to cripple global terrorism -- requires more than careful reasoning and balancing divergent cultural, religious and political interests. It requires looking to the root causes beneath the anger that lead to such terrorist acts.
One cause that can clearly be pointed to is the abject poverty in some of these nations. If people have nothing to care for, they have nothing to lose. Given that, raising the quality of life in such areas is the only long-term way to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring and ensure domestic tranquillity everywhere. Central to that is providing access to safe, sustainable water sources. We in the water quality improvement industry have a key role in that. It’s not the time to pull back in fear, but rather to press forward.
When the smoke clears from the battle, let it be said we did not shrink from our duties in offering relief from the desperation that led to this violence. Let it be known we offered a foe a clean glass of water and helped rebuild the irrigation systems destroyed nearly a millennium ago by Genghis Kahn, turning a once lush paradise at the heart of Islam’s power and civilization into a vast desert. Only then will true peace bloom. Only then will an “enemy” become a friend. Only then can we be safe in prosperity.