Thirsting for Justice

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  –Isaiah 55:1-2 

My honorary three-year-old grandson Isaac was showing me the amazing kid-sized kitchen that his grandfather, my friend Bill Wylie-Kellermann, had made for him for Christmas. I complimented Bill on giving him such a politically correct gift. He said, “You mean because of the gender thing?” And I said, “No, I mean this morning Isaac turned the little spigot knobs, peered up into the faucet, and asked, ‘Where’s the water?’”

You see, Isaac lives in Detroit. And more and more of his neighbors are having exactly this experience—turning on their faucets and having nothing come out. More than 38,000 households in the city have been denied access to safe, clean, and affordable water.


It works like this: The city raises water rates beyond the means of people already struggling to survive, and when they can’t pay, a crew from a privately contracted “demolition and environmental service” shuts off their water. Local and regional officials have maliciously charged that low-income customers insist on “free water”—and these same officials have recommended “behavior modification training” for them. In October 2014, a special delegation from the United Nations declared the massive water shut-offs an unprecedented human rights violation. Continue reading