Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why It's a Good Sign that People are Outraged Over Cecil the Lion's Death

The massive response to Cecil the Lion being killed is an event that I think will change the world for the better. People around the world are now saying that we're not okay with humans killing animals just because they want to. In the words of Twisted Sister, "we're not gonna take it, no we ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it anymore!" Here's a link to the video if you would like some music to set the mood:

I cannot and will not sit by and let animals get killed for human pleasure anymore. I'm so sick of it. I'm getting really tired of people arguing that we shouldn't care about Cecil being killed. Let me demystify all of the arguments that I've seen about why it should be a non-issue.

Argument #1: Lions kill people, so their population has to be maintained. 
Yes, everybody knows that lions can and do kill people. Of course they do. But it's not only predators that kill people. Elephants trample people to death. Cows kill people. Horses kill people. If your argument is that animals that kill humans should be killed, what say you about the fact that humans are the ones that kill the most humans by far?

The argument that we should kill animals that kill people really does not hold up at all. We would have to kill every single lion to prevent lions from killing people. We would have to kill almost all animal life on our planet if we wanted to prevent humans from being killed by animals.

Humans are extremely bad at balancing out nature. Just look at what we're doing to our planet. We're amplifying climate change. We're using natural resources at irresponsible levels. Our population growth is unsustainable. And, bringing it all back to African lion, our "management" of this species is driving them to the brink of extinction. They will probably be extinct by 2050 if we keep up our behavior. That's not "wildlife management." That's human arrogance at its finest.

Argument #2: What the dentist did was legal
Nope, wrong. For one thing, the dentist used a crossbow to conceal the hunt so rangers wouldn't be alerted to his plans. The dentist had to lure Cecil off of the animal sanctuary that he lived on before killing him. As if that isn't already sketchy enough, the landowner whose land Cecil was killed on didn't have a permit for killing lions. Zimbabwe wants the dentist extradited so they can deal with him in their courts since he violated their laws.

Argument #3: Animals are meant to be used by humans
A lot of people seem to think that since animals don't fit our scientific definition of "intelligent life" they can be killed. That's pretty messed up, in my opinion. But that's another discussion entirely.

I will not disagree that there are still some cultures around the world in which it is necessary to kill animals for survival, whether that means they need to kill animals for food or because the animals are actively trying to kill them to make them their food. But neither of those scenarios were in play for Cecil's death. The dentist killed Cecil as a trophy. Just because he wanted to. And that's what people are not okay with.

Argument #4: The money that the dentist paid to fund the hunt helped Zimbabwe's economy
The money only helped two people, the other hunter and the landowner. Animals being alive is what really dumps money into Zimbabwe's economy. Zimbabwe has a massive ecotourism industry. Zimbabwe may lose $5 million in the final quarter of 2015 because of Cecil's death. Cecil being alive would have had much more drastic effect on Zimbabwe's economy.

Argument #5: Americans shouldn't worry about Cecil because there are plenty of other issues to worry about
I don't really have much to say on this because it's kind of ridiculous. People have the capability to worry about more than one thing at a time.

Argument #6: Americans don't understand what life is really like in Zimbabwe, so we shouldn't care about Cecil being killed
It is absolutely true that most Americans can't comprehend the daily lives of people in Zimbabwe. Cecil's death may not be something that most people from Zimbabwe cry over. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us can't be upset that humans still want to kill animals purely for fun.

Our ancestors lived very different lives from us. They had to work hard all day, every day to ensure their survival. As Americans, we live in a new era where we don't have to wake up each morning and worry about not having enough shelter, food, and water to survive the day. We have much more leisure time than ever before. Our lives are now full of conveniences that give us the time to reflect on world events that make us upset or inspired. I would argue that our new leisure time is giving us the chance to make social changes that we want to see in our ideal world. Our American lifestyle is giving us the opportunity to fight for changes that we want to better humanity. Is that such a bad thing? I think it's pretty incredible.

Argument #7: People saying that they want the dentist to suffer the same fate as Cecil are being too dramatic
It is extreme to wish death upon another human being. However, I think the people who are calling for his punishment are really just expressing their belief that animal lives are just as valuable as human lives. Throughout history, murder was punished by death. I think it's pretty profound that people are, for once in human history, demanding that animal lives be treated with the same dignity and respect as human lives.

I think it's quite funny how most people talk about how they want a better world or a "heaven on earth," but aren't willing to make the changes in their own personal lives to create that Utopian world. I think most of us would agree that there would be no killing in a perfect world. Why don't we start now?

Cecil's death may be a tragedy in many people's eyes, but it can be used to make positive change. His death is causing the attitudes of people around the world to change. Take a moment to internalize this situation. You always have the freedom to believe what you want. Do you want to join humanity in saying that animal lives are worth being treated with respect? What do you see in your ideal world? What beliefs and attitudes will you need to adopt or drop to make that world a reality?

I just want to take the opportunity to share my burning passion for protecting the lives of animals. The other day, I was on a hike and noticed that there was a deer hanging out by us. I quietly followed her into the woods, where she chose a spot to lay down. I was able to get about 20 feet away from her. We just looked into each other's eyes for a couple of minutes. She didn't appear to be afraid of me in any way. I believe that by looking into an animal's eyes, you are looking into the soul of the Earth. And that's worth protecting.

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