By Cheng Sun, Xiang River Waterkeeper
2,295 years ago, the patriotic poet Yuan Qu committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River after being unfairly accused of treason. People rushed to search for his body but did so in vain. Fearing the body might be eaten by fish, they tossed rice balls into the river hoping the fish would feed on the rice instead of the poet’s body. To memorialize Yuan Qu’s death, people set May 5 in the lunar calendar to be the Dragon Boat Festival, one of China’s most important celebrations.
This story took place in my hometown of Hunan. When I first heard it, I was incredibly touched, not only by Qu’s spirit, but by everything that came to play: the respect for his life even after his death, the harmony between humans and nature, and the river, that was once swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.
You may not know where Hunan is, but if you are using an iPhone, there is a 50 percent chance that your phone screen was manufactured in Hunan by a local company called Lansi Technology. This is a perfect example of globalization — you are connected to a region that you might know nothing about through your bedding, office supplies, and personal items.
As a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, Xiang River Waterkeeper shares a global vision of protecting our waters. Water blurs the boundaries of countries and regions and everywhere in the world, humans share the same challenge of environmental protection.