Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cecil the Lion

 The biggest news story of this past week was the killing of Cecil the Lion by a middle-aged American dentist. The pictures of him standing over the dead body of such a majestic beast sent the internet into a white-hot frenzy. By the end of the week, the sidewalk outside of his dental office was festooned with stuffed lions and posters suggesting that he better not show up anytime soon if he knows what's good for him. As of this hour, he is still in hiding.

Since this horrific story occurred simultaneously with the Planned Parenthood video controversy, my Facebook feed has been plastered with anger over the lack of comparative outrage. "One lion gets murdered and people go crazy, while Planned Parenthood butchers babies for their body parts and nobody even raises an eyebrow!!!" Not to be outdone, several civil rights activists complained that white people care more about lions in Africa than they do about the  people of Africa.

Of course, then the hunting enthusiasts descended into the fray with their robust defense of the dentist. "Do any of you people know how an aging lion dies? Usually he gets eaten alive by insects or other lions. The dentist did Cecil a favor!"

So, what's my take? First of all, getting hot and bothered on the subject of comparative outrage is a losing proposition. No one who disagrees with you is going to show enough outrage over your cause to ever satisfy you, so give it up. Secondly, I know plenty of people who were equally pissed off about the Planned Parenthood videos AND Cecil the Lion...ME for one. But I certainly understand why the killing of a majestic lion caused such a visceral reaction while the PP videos haven't so much. It's because...he's a LION!!! Anyone with even a basic understanding of history knows the symbolic nature of the King of the jungle and his place in literary and cultural history. The lion is uniquely revered amoung all of God's creatures. It's majestic, powerful and mysterious. C.S. Lewis,
in his classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, didnt give the role of messianic figure to an aardvark, or a wildebeest. Only a lion would do. To see such an animal killed by a guy with apparently  more money than he knows what to do with for mere sport strikes a nerve. The details of the kill made matters worse. Luring the beast out into the open by dragging a dead animal behind a truck, then shooting him with a bow and arrow, tracking him for over 24 hours then fininshing him off with a gun shot seemed cowardly, and made a mockery of the term, sporting kill. So, people flipped out!

I'm not a hunter, with the exception of backyard squirrels trying to eat my tomatoes. I don't think I have it within me to be able to pull the trigger to kill an animal, unless said animal was about to eat me(or my tomatoes). I don't begrudge people who are hunters, it's just not my thing. But when God commanded us to have dominion over the earth, I'm pretty sure he didn't mean it was OK for some rich guy with a mid-life crisis to stalk the king of the beast, so he can hang its head on his wall back at the office like a trophy. I am repulsed by this sort of thing when I see it in much the same way as I am repulsed by the PP videos...because I value life.

And please, don't send me messages informing me of how many ants I kill every day walking down the street, or how many Mosquitos I murder while cutting the grass. If you can't tell the difference between a lion or a fully formed baby in the womb, and a mosquito, then I can't help you. Has the reaction been a little over the top hysterical, especially amoung several Hollywood loons? Sure. Does it bother me that many of the same people who are most agitated over a dead lion, aren't the least bit troubled by 50 million babies since Roe vs. Wade? Yeah, a little. But frankly, in this day and age, I'm encouraged when people get moved by the death of anything, so callous have we become to death and slaughter. So, I mourne Cecil's death, and make no apologies for doing so.