Monday, December 8, 2014
“There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted.” — Henry David Thoreau
When I first saw the picture at the right, I was awed and inspired. Today, when I see it, I weep. When we moved to Tanzania in 2005, Tanzania had 140,000 elephants. When the new government took over in late 2005, the leaders made clandestine deals with money men and government officials from other countries to trade in illegal ivory. Today, there are only 40,000 elephants left in this country. Now elephants live to over 70 years here, but over 100,000 have been killed by poachers, robbed of their ivory with their bodies left to rot and decay where they lay. This could not have been done without the collusion of highly placed government officials. There is a gold mine on one edge of the Serengeti National Park and our president proposed putting a four-lane paved highway through the heart of the Serengeti so that the gold miners could get their products to market more easily. It would have totally destroyed the annual migration of the wildebeests and zebras that bring so many tourists to both Tanzania and Kenya and is one of the wonders of the world. Happily, in that instance, other countries stepped in and put a stop to it, at least for now. News is just now surfacing about the incredible killing of elephants to the extant that they are now endangered. Much of the ivory has been going to China, so we were happy to see that Yao Ming, the former Houston Rocket basketball player from China has begun a campaign to try to save the elephants. The Washington Post had this headine on its front page, “Yao Ming aims to save Africa's elephants by persuading China to give up ivory.” We don’t know if he will succeed or not but we applaud his trying to stop this horrible slaughter of these magnificent beasts. We have had the pleasure and the honor to spend hours in two of Tanzania’s national parks watching, observing, and being in awe of these splendid beasts. I hate corruption. I hate it in the church, but I see it and feel it all the time. I hate corruption in government and big business. If you study the Bible, you will find that all of the major prophets in the Old Testament had one basic theme—stop the corruption that rewards the rich and oppresses the poor. It seems that it is so vast and so powerful that nothing can be done to stop it, and perhaps that is true. But it is also true, that we must fight it with all of our beings wherever we find it. Jesus told us to remember the widows and orphans because the corruption of his time led to misery and death for them. If you see it, fight it. It is very, very sad that so much of it exists within the hierarchy of the church, and no denomination or even a small individual church is immune. Live lives that become the Gospel. That is what we can do. That is what we must do, or the picture at the right may be one of the last elephants we ever see in the wild. Excuse my rant, but some things just punch my buttons and poaching and corruption are among them.