Wednesday, July 29, 2015


In  Zimbabwe in Africa, until a few days ago, there lived a lion named Cecil. He was 13 years old; in his handsome, regal prime.  He lived in a protected parkland, and was a well known attraction to tourists come to see wild lions, while there is still wild habitat left for them. 
 The African Lion is on its way to endangered status. As Africa’s human population continues to explode,  Lion numbers are down 60% in just the last 30 years.  The collapse coincides largely with the loss of  their habitat.  That’s the sobering backdrop for Cecil’s murder for sport.

Here’s the story. A dentist from Minnesota paid more than $50,000 to kill a lion. He hired to two local guides to find a big, powerful male lion that the dentist wanted on his wall.  The details of how Cecil was targeted are unclear. What is known is Cecil lived, at least mostly if not entirely, inside a reserve, where hunting was not allowed.   While the intrepid dentist watched, the hired guides lured Cecil,  who was at least a prince in the local feline hierarchy, onto private land, where upon the dentist turned archer drilled the regal animal with an arrow. But it wasn’t a kill shot. 

Cecil bolted away. The hunter and his guides followed Cecil for the next forty hours. Instead of ending this wounded animal’s suffering, they followed, very possibly so the hunter could claim he took the powerful beast down with an arrow.  In the end, after almost two days of wounded agony, the dentist finished Cecil off with his gun.  Then they removed the lion’s head as a trophy and took its skin, perhaps destined to be a coffee table rug.

Killing for sport seems to be some kind of masculine thing. The operative word is ‘sport’.  People used to hunt to feed themselves. It’s still that way in many places, unfortunately.  But the person who  killed Cecil was financially secure. He spent a wad of money to kill a majestic predator as a personal trophy.  Murder is his sport.

Some psychologists say the choices we make are sometimes linked to certain brands of psychological inadequacy.    I don’t know. I’m not going to second guess the deeper motives behind the murder of Cecil the Lion. 

The intrepid big game hunter is getting hammered with scorching public condemnation.  He has been forced to close his dental practice. The scorn has emerged, not just from this country, but from around the entire world.  Many people in other countries have lost respect for Americans, because they see the horrendous casualties of our gun culture. In this case, it’s an American killer for sport willfully committing a reprehensible crime against nature.

Instead of shaking our heads in disgust at the death of Cecil the lion, then allowing indifference to absorb our momentary compassion, I say, let’s use our mourning for this handsome lion prince as a teachable moment.  Let’s make Cecil an icon; a martyr that stands for a human commitment to renewing the natural world.  

The human population has doubled since 1970. It took half a million years,  to get to a human population of 3.7 billion,  only 45 years to explode those numbers to nearly 7.4 billion.  We are still adding about 75 million new humans every year.  Too many people remain ignorant or in denial about the impact of our numbers. The scientific evidence is clear.  We have turned our atmosphere into a sewer. We are exhausting our fresh water supplies, stripping the life from our oceans and using up the planet’s finite resources like there is no tomorrow. We are shredding the biosphere we all depend on.  In just the last few decades it took to double our human numbers, the wild animal population in Earth has dropped by more than 50%.

We are all culpable for the perfect storm of 21st century challenges that threaten not just humanity, but all life on Earth. It’s not just the dentist from Minnesota that is guilty.  He is in hiding, unable, despite claims of ‘deep regret’, to shed the regal blood on his hands. No question, he is doing the suffering now.

Here is a clear pathway to redemption for the dentist perpetrator.   Face the public.  Acknowledge the moral bankruptcy that big game hunting draws on.  Renounce hunting; arm yourself with a genuine understanding of how our biosphere works, then become a voice of compassion and reason. The louder and more powerful your message, the better for your soul.  Shape your own assertive mission as an ambassador for better behavior toward nature.

Let’s not allow Cecil’s death to go in vain. Let it be a symbol. Let it be a beacon that lights our course to a future that is both sustainable and life-affirming.  That’s the least each of us can do.  The undeniable truth is we have one small place in the universe.  The Earth is the only home we have. There is no choice.  We must fulfill our human potential and be the change we wish for.


1 comment:

  1. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.