Greetings to my visiting friends. I use this space to comment on important subjects of the day, on the continuing evolution of my writing, my video and my photography work, to acknowledge good ideas and some good people I've crossed paths with along life's journey, and on stuff that's just plain curious or fun.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
KILLING CECIL, KILLING OURSELVES
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
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 whokilled 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
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
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.