Dear Premier Zille

By August 10, 2017Activism

Dear Premier Zille,

I am writing to you as a concerned and active citizen of planet earth currently residing in Cape Town and wishing to support you and the government of Western Cape in the ensuing water crisis that we are faced with. In your words we have now reached disaster status and day zero (ie. The day when we literally have no water) is alarmingly close and getting ever closer by the day.

I commend all the campaigns currently in place. I can even see first hand it’s effect in the household I am currently staying. I am living with a real life Cape Town water hero! Simon is on a mission and it’s inspiring to see! We no longer flush the loo but use the shower water (max 2minutes!) accumulated in a cooler box to flush down the toilets amongst many other water saving efforts. I have no idea why we haven’t lived like this all along and had to wait for a near disaster to live more consciously. After all if we can live well and use less why wouldn’t we? We are guests on this earth and should act that way.

I salute Nelisa, Seraj, Liso, Jo-Anne, Shane, Simon and all the Western Cape water heroes for their water saving efforts. Thank you and I hope this becomes the norm in the Cape and around the world.

All of these can be classified as efforts to reduce domestic water use. Are you aware that domestic use constitutes only about 5% of total water use?

Animal agriculture constitutes more than 50% of all water use. Ten times more than domestic use and yet there is no mention of this anywhere to be seen.

1,300 gallons = 6,396 litres of water

What did you eat today, Premier? More to the point, how much water was used in order for it to get to your plate?

One beef serving = 1,200 gallons = 4,542 litres

One chicken serving = 330 gallons = 1,249 litres

One complete vegan meal = 98 gallons = 370 litres

This is a breakdown of our maximum daily allowance of water usage during the most stringent water restrictions in living memory for Cape Town citizens:

How can our maximum daily allowance not include what we eat?

None of us are getting anywhere close to sticking to our 87 litre daily allowance if we include what we eat.

 In fact, if we had beef today, it’s the equivalent of over 50 x the daily allowance in one meal. 

If we are serious about solving this water crisis how can this be overlooked? Why are we not all asking ourselves this question? It’s where we can make the most difference to this crisis immediately and without harming others.

The entire level 4B water restrictions (taken directly from the Western Cape Government website) is based on domestic use? How can this be?

If we continue focusing just on domestic water saving we ARE going to run out of water. Even if the entire Province became water heroes focused on domestic use the needle would not even budge! Refer to The Daily Maverick article titled “The DA government’s most deadly failure” and The South African’s article highlighting how there is said to be 63 days of water supply left in Cape Town.

Just one burger saves the same amount of water as not showering for 3 months (let alone the 5 min showers the Water Heroes campaign regards as heroic!) or not flushing the toilet for 6 months! (Sorry Simon! Please keep up the good work though – this must not stop but cannot stand alone!)

How about we make one day a week a meat, eggs and dairy free day in the Western Cape? We can create so much togetherness, solidarity and compassion! It will get the attention of the entire world. Finally someone is willing to deal with the greatest global Elephant in the room.

I have heard rumours that water from the Breede River or desalination of sea water is the back up plan for Cape Town? If yes, can you tell me how much vital ecology will be lost during this process? Ie we will have to justify the loss of one for the benefit of another. Here is an article about Cape Town’s desalination plans outlined by Mayor de Lille.

Does this sound familiar?

Wasn’t that basically what Apartheid was? Justifying   the exploitation of one race for the benefit of another ?

Do you remember during Apartheid (white) people trying to justify that it was necessary and for the best to contain these “savages”? To some people it was almost as if there was no issue. The fellow humans (non white people) impacted by Apartheid were basically invisible or not the same as them in their eyes and so it seemed easy and possibly even morally right to justify?

Thankfully your life bears testament to the fact that you could never, would never and didn’t ever accept that this violent, abhorrent system of governance could ever be justified or accepted under any circumstances. I think your role in the bringing down of Apartheid is often overlooked and underestimated but I would like to publicly thank you and acknowledge you for your courage and willingness to stand up for what is right regardless of the price you and your family paid and continues to pay even to this day.

Thank you Premier Zille. I really mean that. Thank you wholeheartedly. I greatly admire and respect you. And have appreciated the various moments we have spent together tremendously each time strengthening my determination to live a life that matters. To be in the Arena just like you. To stand up for what is right just like you have done.

Today what if I told you similar atrocities were being committed and have become institutionalized by society, and the beings that they are being committed against have become totally invisible and powerless?

Remember what Apartheid was – valuing some people’s lives more over another on the basis of the colour of their skin and justifying it institutionally, making it “ok” and even acceptable.

Imagine we committed the same violent crimes to dogs and cats that we commit to cows, pigs and sheep? There would be global outrage, total pandemonium. Why can’t we see that this is exactly the same as Apartheid, making it acceptable to value one living being’s life over another. Who made us God?! This is the start of all racism and justification of absurdities which leads to atrocities.

(Dr Melanie Joy has dedicated her life to researching this topic and trying to understand how humans can justify how we can “love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows”. She calls it Carnism. This is her TED talk about it that has been viewed by over 600,000 people. It’s really insightful and is something that could inspire a new perspective. Please watch it if you can.)

c.6 million people died in the Holocaust

c.1,2 BILLION animals are slaughtered every week. This is the most awful, horrific Holocaust in the history of the world. And we have all been part of it and we DO have a choice.

And think about that many aninals in terms of water and food consumption. Check this out:

In an average DAY cattle alone consume 61 billion kilograms of food and 170 billion litres of water. Humans consume 9,5 billion kilograms of food and 20 billion litres of water.

Helen, please see this.

Right now It feels as if most people can’t even consider not eating animal products as an option – whenever this topic is brought up a deathly silence emerges. It’s as if this option doesn’t exist or we don’t even have a choice. But we do! And it’s a really healthy and gentle one that the meat industry and pharmaceutical industries don’t want us to know about. They are invested in keeping us in the dark so they can protect their unscrupulous profits.

We can start small and try for one day a week of non animal eating – and let’s use the word animals as when we call it meat we somehow don’t connect with the living sentient beings we are putting in our mouths. You can even do a campaign that depicts each meal as litres of water and this will clearly show how environmentally outrageous and irresponsible animal agriculture is, at any time let alone during a water crisis of epic proportions. We have to at least give it a try?

You have always been a leader who is willing to put her head above the parapet. Never more than today has this been needed. Guide us towards a paradigm shift that truly can change the world. Plus it will save your bacon (excuse the pun!) and Cape Town’s water crisis without having to do anything drastic that is going to damage our ecology and effectively choose one species over another. That’s exactly what you have fought against all your life.

I believe in you. If anyone can see this it is you. And once you see it I know you will feel compelled to act on it. I will not stop trying to find a way much like you did during Apartheid. One day everyone will be able to see how wrong it is and how they have been supporting it. Like a truth and reconciliation committee for crimes committed against animals.

This is a letter I addressed to UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh on the matter:

“Maitrī-ādiṣu balāni”

This is a Sanskrit teaching that translates to “Through friendliness, kindness and compassion, strength comes”. And a little bit of humour!

With respect and love

Yours in service,

John McInroy

ps. These words at the foot of the statue of Tata Mandela at the V&A Waterfront shook my being when I stood beside them this week as they sum up what I am trying to say.

Let’s not repeat history. Please. Enough blood has been spilt here already. Ubuntu doesn’t just apply to humans. We are because they are.


About Bodhi

In conventional speak, John McInroy is a South-African born social activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, ultra endurance athlete, international field hockey player, actor and vegan yogi. In more authentic terms, Bodhi is a human you may see walking the streets barefoot trying to find new ways to tread as lightly as possible.

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