“Anybody have any idea what invention has saved more lives than any other in the history of humankind?” asks Matt Damon. He answers his own question with, “The toilet.” That would seem to be a good thing to me.
However, Matt Damon, the Oscar-winning actor, feels that we should all refrain from using toilets until the entire world has access to clean water and sanitation. His video is humorous and tongue-in-cheek, but his campaign is quite serious. He wants to raise awareness of the 780 million people who lack access to clean water and the 2.5 billion people who do not have toilets or basic sanitation.
To support Water.org‘s cause, Damon announced, “In protest of this global tragedy and until this issue is resolved … I will not go to the bathroom.”
Really? You won’t go, Matt, or you won’t use a toilet? I have lived with IBS and colitis for forty years, and I don’t think the man realizes what he is pledging to do. I actually have stopped my car and gone in the woods, and all it really raised my awareness of was poison ivy, snakes, and people protecting their posted land with shotguns.
Since this problem will never be solved completely, will Damon actually eschew using toilets for the rest of his life? Stay tuned, folks. Damon is turning back the clock two hundred years. Although John Harington invented a precursor to the modern flush toilet system in 1596, toilets did not come into widespread use until the late nineteenth century.
So, did Pemberley have flush toilets? No. Joseph Bramah of Yorkshire patented the first practical water closet in England in 1778, and George Jennings took out a patent for the flush-out toilet in 1852. It really wasn’t until Thomas Crapper & Co. opened the world’s first bath, toilet and sink showroom that the concept became popular. In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely spoken of, Crapper, a visionary and my personal hero, heavily promoted sanitary plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom.
In the 1880s, Prince Edward (later Edward VII) acquired Sandringham House in Norfolk and hired Thomas Crapper & Co. to supply the plumbing, which included thirty lavatories with cedarwood seats and enclosures, thus giving Crapper his first Royal Warrant. Further warrants from Edward as king and from George V, both as Prince of Wales and as king, were forthcoming, and an entrepreneur changed plumbing as we know it.
I’m not really making fun of Matt Damon and his worthy goal. Actually, yes, I am, but I still think his idea is thought provoking. If we give up toilets because many people of Asia and Africa don’t have them, shall we also give up cars and modern houses for the same reason? How about food, central air and heat, and refrigeration?
What do you think?