The new but fast-growing field of astrobiology has increasing numbers of scientists imagining how life beyond the Earth – if there is any – might be structured and how it might function.
Water, most of them agree, is a prerequisite to any extraterrestrial life.
But this assumption may be the result of an Earth-bias, because here on Earth, water is virtually everything.
Some 70 per cent of our world is covered by water. All life we know of at this time requires water, at least at the cellular level.
Our own bodies are about two-thirds water. Given this vital role, one might think that our species would have figured out long ago how to make sure that everyone of us had enough water to make it through every day.
Sadly, however, that is no where near the harsh reality many tens of millions face today.
Here in the flashy high-tech 21st Century, more than 1 billion members of the human family do not have consistent access to safe drinking water. As a result of this staggering depravation, some 5 million people – mostly children – die from water-borne diseases each year in the developing world.
Raging fevers, cruel cramps and the fading light in a child’s eyes are routine realities for many.
Anyone with even a minimal amount of compassion can not easily stomach the suffering that comes with a daily death toll of 6,000 children. For reasons difficult to understand, most of the world’s people and most of Cayman’s people are either unaware or able to ignore the suffering of our neighbours. Not all, however, are willing to look the other way.
Students and teachers at Grand Cayman’s Montessori by the Sea raised more than $4,000 for Amman Imman (Water is Life), an organisation that digs wells in Niger, Africa.
Undoubtedly, their efforts will save lives. The young students did it by sponsoring a read-a-thon, giving ribbons for donations and selling hand-made crafts. They presented their donation to visiting Amman Imman president Michael Kirtely last week.
It is easy to praise children for their social awareness, of course.
But the good works of these Montessori by the Sea students are more than an example of compassion and positive action for the rest of us to admire. Their efforts are a direct challenge to all Caymanians.
Each one of us can and should do more for those who suffer in extreme poverty-particularly the children.
If we are a country of moral people, then our love and concern for others must extend beyond our shores.
Compassion is a virtue that should not be limited by things so relatively trivial as geography and national borders.
To learn more about the Amman Imman project, visit www.waterforniger.org