For decades states along the Colorado River like California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Colorado had fought in court over how much water each of them should receive from the the river. In the 1960’s the United States Supreme Court determined that Arizona was entitled to a specific amount of water each year. That major decision opened the way for the building of a canal to bring water from the Colorado River to Phoenix and eventually to Tucson. The canal was called the Central Arizona Project. During the following decade, the federal government voted to spend millions of dollars to construct this aquaduct across the Arizona desert.
Previously, most of the water in Phoenix came from the Salt and Verde rivers. Huge dams along those rivers captured and stored water that was eventually funneled into Phoenix through a network of canals. Most of the water used in Tucson came from underground aquafirs. Water was pumped by farmers and municipalities to provide water for growing crops and serving those living in the greater Tucson area. The Central Arizona Project canal dramatically increased the available water supply to Phoenix and Tucson and to farmers and ranchers throughout central and southern Arizona.
Recently, my wife and I were driving across the desert between Arizona and California on Interstate 10. This four lane highway crosses over the canal several times. As we drove over the canal I noticed a sign that read, “Hayden / Rhodes Memorial Aquaduct”. These two men had led the effort to get the federal funding needed to build the canal.
Carl Hayden was a Senator from Arizona. In the 1960’s he was the oldest senator in the US Senate. He was not the majority leader, but he was the oldest and longest serving senator at that time. I actually had lunch with him in the Senate dining room in the US Capitol when I was a high school student. John Rhodes was a congressman from Arizona in the United States House of Representatives. He was also the Minority leader in the House, a very influential position in his party.
Carl Hayden was the leading Democrat in the Senate. John Rhodes was the leading Republican in the House. They worked together to gain the financial support of the federal government to build the Arizona canal. They were from opposite political parties. I think Hayden would have been called a moderate or liberal and Rhodes a moderate or conservative. But, they found a way to work together for the benefit of the people of Arizona. I’m sure that they had their differences. I’m sure they did not always vote the same way on every issue. But, they found a way to work together.
I think many people today are confused and concerned about the polarization in our political system. Each party accuses the other of misdeeds and misguided ideologies. Insults are aired on the floor of the House and Senate and in the media. I wonder how we can begin to come together as a country? How can we put aside the volume of anger and accusations? How can our leaders find a way to build consensus and compromise? I don’t expect everyone to agree on every topic or piece of legislation. I believe we do need to maintain our values and convictions. But, I think we need more people like Carl Hayden and John Rhodes in our halls of government who are committed to work together for the good of our nation.
I also believe that some prayer would help, too. The Apostle Paul instructed followers of Jesus to pray for those in postions of authority and government. He wrote these words in his letter to his young friend Timothy when there was social and political division within the Roman Empire. Let me challenge you to pray for our country. Pray for those in positions of leadership. Pray that our country and our citizens will find ways to work together to strengthen the unity of our great nation.
Pastor Mark Hopper
Efree church of Diamond Bar
3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd
Sunday Services: 9:00 &10:45 AM