Over the years, I’ve used this column as a place to rail against everything from lifeguard pay to lack of industry cooperation. And I’ve gotten some flak from people who say I’m too negative. “Why can’t you ever talk about the positive things going on in the industry?” they ask.
Well, for anyone who ever thought that about the Editor’s Desk, this one’s for you. Today, I’m brimming with pride for the aquatics industry, and I have nothing but praise to heap upon it.
If I sound uncharacteristically positive, and even Pollyanna-ish, that’s because I’ve read our news story about how the industry has stepped in to help the people of Haiti through one of the worst disasters in history (page 11). It’s the kind of story that even the most cynical person could read and come away with some optimism. From donating desperately needed water-treatment supplies and products to organizing deeply personal fund-raisers, aquatics professionals have heeded the need of people who, for the most part, they’ve never even met.
That makes me proud to be part of this industry. But, for me, that pride extends beyond the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. In 1990, I spent several weeks in Haiti on a humanitarian mission. I saw the desperation and the poverty firsthand. I witnessed the chaos of a coup — heard the gunfire echo off buildings, saw the burning tires rolling down the streets. But I also experienced something else: Despite it all, the people of Haiti were some of the happiest, most carefree souls I’d ever met.
After just a few weeks with them, I left feeling slightly confused, and even a little jealous of what they had. I have often thought back to that time in my life and wished I could have done more.
So it is with special pride and gratitude that I count myself a member of an industry that’s helping to rebuild this nation, which has suffered through so much injustice and yet still maintains the capacity for hope and joy.
As Haiti continues rebuilding in the months and years to come, water will be an integral part of its success. The technology and the water- quality management techniques that operators use every day could mean the difference between life and death. As such, the effort to help Haiti is the ultimate manifestation of lifesaving — not of a single facility or patron, but of an entire nation and its people. How fitting, then, that aquatics should be there to lend a hand in this effort. How inspiring to know that aquatics’ message of health, safety and well-being doesn’t end when we leave the water.