Everyone is outraged about the killing of one lion – and rightly so – but then we all go get a quarter pounder that is produced through a system that mistreats millions of animals and destroys the environment (i.e. habitat for other animals).. ~N. Barr

Everything is connected. Trophy hunting is an overt and extreme illustration of the type of behavior our culture is capable of producing and one to condemn without question. Killing another creature for sport will never be right. We have the right to be angry, and we have the right to grieve the loss of a beautiful life.  But what I keep coming back to is that the death of Cecil the lion, while fostering immediate sorrow for the life lost and rage against those directly involved, sometimes makes us forget that the actions of the average Joe living in a developed nation — of you, of me — It makes us forget that the things we do every day, like drive a car or make a call on a cell phone or type on a computer or eat from a box of crackers that was produced in a factory….all of these things are complicit in a system that exploits life for human gain.  It’s not blatant disregard for life like trophy hunting is, no.  But at the end of the day, so many of our actions, albeit a few steps removed, result in the loss of life.

Even if we live off the grid, at some point we’re probably going to use something that came into being as a result of exploitation. It’s a tricky business to extract oneself from the tangle of destruction that our lives are built on. We don’t have to agree with big oil or feedlots or GMOs to allow them to permeate our circles. They just do, by way of how hard it is to avoid them and still function in society while maintaining relationships and the very connections that are needed to promote change. There’s a place for retreat, yes. Removing our energy from the things that cause pain to other beings is essential. But there’s also a real need for voices of truth that aren’t afraid to use them regularly, in the midst of the chaos.

It all sounds bleak, and when you look at the hard facts, it is. There are multitudes dying every day, from plants to animals to human beings, because of the actions of a relative few. That’s not the question.  The question is how do we who are immersed in this system of destruction go about our days? I don’t have any answers, and I don’t know that anyone truly does. But I do see an opportunity to funnel our reactions to the killing of one beautiful lion in Africa by a wealthy man in America into fuel for the movement that will bring such acts to their end.

One day, when my outrage is done, hopefully in the days of my daughter, we will see lions as co-dancers and comrades in this mysterious pilgrimage of life, not exotic trophies we can merely hang on our walls. ~Adebayo C. Akomolafe

Allow yourself to grieve all that has been lost.  And then funnel your anger and sadness over this event into positive change.  Explore how you might get involved in helping the world shift away from one that allows something like trophy hunting to exist into one that sees all creatures as essential parts of the whole, with a right to live in peace. But don’t stop at exploring. Be sure to act.

For some ideas on what you can do to help protect wildlife, or to simply donate to the cause, visit the Wildlife Research Conservation Unit or the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

 

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