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Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Straw that Broke This Camel's Back

Call me the camel. It's okay. I won't be offended. I just read another plastic straw post. I have to speak out about the terrible scourge of plastic—from a camel's eye viewpoint.

Straws are terrible. I have always known that. Have you ever seen a camel try to drink through a straw? I prefer slurping loudly and imbibing a great quantity of water per slurp. Throw out the straws. Fine with me. (Throw out the paper ones, too. As my friend John so beautifully illustrated with his video, they don't poke through the plastic tops on cups, anyhow. Save the trees. Don't get me started on the plastic tops!)

Have you seen the plastics on the sand? I'm an expert in sand. The Sahara is my home. If I walk far enough west, I can visit a beach littered with plastics. And, you know what? Not one of those items is a straw. Plastic bags and bottles are the main culprits. Containers in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Ban the bottles. Ban the bags. Ban plastic containers. Of course, ban the straws.

Some countries are heeding the call. Entrepreneurs are getting wise and developing biodegradable packaging for everything. And, that's good. I smile a silly camel smile as I saunter away from the beach back to the hot sands where I'm happiest. I make a terrible cry as I turn, just for fun. A little boy on the beach jumps back, startled.

I never brush my teeth, but if I did, I'd brush with toothpaste with microbeads. Ha ha! Fooled you. No, I wouldn't. I don't want fish to end up swallowing microbeads and me to end up eating fish with plastic in them. You guessed it; I couldn't care less. I don't eat fish. Plant matter only. No wonder I don't brush my teeth.

Ban the microbeads. Ban straws. Ban plastic bags. Ban water bottles. Ban plastic cups at music festivals. Ban all plastic single-use stuff. Fine with me. I'm a camel. Doesn't affect me at all.

Hay … I could use some about now.

Mmmm … thank you, that was delicious. Ruminating on the plastics issue, I'm thinking how hard it is to change society—the way things have been done for a long time, the habits of life.

My ancestors have been around for thousands of years. They were in on some of the most amazing events in history. Would you like to—ahem!—ruminate along with me?
  • Abram (later Abraham) had a lot of us.
  • Rebekah watered the camels (using no plastic straws or bottles!), proving she was the right bride for Isaac.
  • Camels were unclean animals, and Jewish people could not eat us. (Whew! Thankful for Old Testament dietary laws.)
  • Jacob set his wives and sons on camels. We're great transportation, you know.
  • Zebah and Zalmunna ornamented their camels with fancy things. Gideon cut the chain ornaments off, because they were of great value.
  • Camels are fast. Four hundred young men on camelback fled and escaped David's army.
  • Camels are the world's first freight trains. The Queen of Sheba went to Solomon with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones (from 1 Kings 10:2).
  • In Bible times, the amount of camels one had was a symbol of his wealth. I always knew we were worth a lot.
  • Here's proof there were even camel chariots back then: And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels (Isaiah 21:7a). Betcha didn't know that one.
  • John the Baptist wore a garment made of camel's hair. 
And, Jesus said two curious things about camels:
  1. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:24b-26). I'm a camel, but I am thankful God makes it possible for anyone to enter into His kingdom.
  2. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24). You might want to read this verse in context: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Obviously, Jesus wasn't talking about actually swallowing something as big as I am; the gnat and camel were metaphors for something very small and very big. (I was an unclean animal for Jewish Pharisees, you remember. They wouldn't have been allowed under Jewish Law to eat either me or the gnat.) The lesson here is that they needed a heart change—a clean-up on the inside.
Which leads us back to the plastic straw. Most of the junk in the oceans is bigger than a straw—and most isn't straws at all. (Supposedly, the statistics about plastic straws came from a nine-year-old boy.) So, the clean-up effort, though it can begin with straws, needs to encompass a whole re-think of materials and packaging.

And, most of the junk in people's lives—we call it sin—isn't the stuff we notice most (murder, rape, extorsion, etc.). It's the stuff that we think is "little" (lies, petty theft, porn use, gossip, an iffy movie). Jesus had it right. We desperately need Him to clean up our insides, and then our outsides will be clean. And, the best news of all: anyone can be saved. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

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