As soon as the wood was silent again, Susan and Lucy crept out onto the open hilltop. The moon was getting low and thin clouds were passing across her, but still they could see the shape of the Lion lying dead in his bonds.
—C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
I decided early on that I was not going to write a piece about Cecil the Lion. I’d never heard of the poor animal, prior to his death, and I don’t know what more I could say, regarding this desecrated creature and the coward who murdered him, that has not already been said elsewhere.
However, as the days have passed and the outpouring of anger and sorrow has continued to flow, I have noticed something happening that I do want to talk about. And that is the casual ease with which certain segments of society seem to feel, they may devalue the deeply held emotions of others.
The ‘Outrage Police’ are on patrol, and they’re gonna make sure you know that your feelings about this tragedy are misplaced. I…, you…, we…, are all hypocrites, and morally bankrupt in the bargain.
By way of example, how many times, in the last few days, have you read something like this…,
“One Lion dies and everyone loses their minds, but Planned Parenthood murders babies to sells their parts and no one bats an eye? Where are your priorities America?!”
Well, I could point out that no one had to manufacture evidence of the dead lion, but the folks from the Religious Right would tell me that the veracity of any criminal claims are completely beside the point. Human babies are dying, and while that is going on, crying over anything as trivial as a dead animal is a sure sign of societies moral decay.
Or, I might suggest, it simply means we are capable of multitasking.
Okay, you want me to be outraged by abortion, fine I’m outraged! I’m outraged with a certain faction of our society who care so little for the poor that cannot afford to raise more children, and who fight so hard to keep their own sons and daughters away from safe-sex education and contraceptive resources, that abortion remains a necessity for so many.
I am equally horrified by an attitude that puts the well being of a fetus over the mental and physical health of living breathing women – still children many of them, forced into womanhood too soon.
Where oh where ARE my priorities?
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that the ‘Outrage Police’ are all card carrying members of the Moral Majority, or haven’t you read this argument recently…,
“One lion dies, and that is very sad, but millions of animals die every day to feed people who insist on eating meat. If you don’t weep for them you are a hypocrite!”
I do love it when people who are so far apart on the political spectrum demonstrate just how alike they really are by utilizing the same insulting tactics.
I hate factory farming, and in my own life, I do whatever I can to ensure the animal products which I consume come from organic, ethically treated sources. My deeply held, religious belief is that when we kill an animal (be it wild or domestic), we have a responsibility to the animal to ensure that its life was taken in just cause, and that we will make the absolute best use of everything it has to give us. When we raise animals, as pets or as livestock, we owe it to them to ensure that their lives are spent in as much comfort as possible. When we encounter animals in the wild, we will kill them only to protect ourselves from immediate injury, or to sustain ourselves through that most time honored of traditions – the hunt.
And no, I don’t mean sitting in a treetop blind with a high powered rifle and scope, waiting for some buck to respond to the pheromones you are releasing half a mile away. If there is no real challenge or danger, it’s not hunting, and the fact that you eat your kill puts you just one ‘small’ step above the trophy hunters who just want to mount another head on the wall.
I also recognize that this is never going to be enough for some people. If by action or intent an animal dies, we are, all of us, guilty of murder. There is no grey area for these folks, and the life of a single lion is of no consequence in the face of the horror-show over at the local Oscar Meyer plant. Any attempt to argue for the sake of deeply endangered species, over market animals that are, by any reasoned count, vastly overpopulated…, any mention of the species that are lost due to habitat depletion from not just ranching, but farming as well…, will be seen as simply another poor attempt to excuse the blood on our hands.
Oh, what mean spirited hypocrites we are!
I even read this one the other day…,
“You’re all sad for that Lion, but what about all the villagers that have been killed in lion attacks? #blacklivesmatter”
But I have to believe that one was just an example of poorly conceived satire.
So here’s my point.
No one has the right to tell anyone else how they are allowed to feel or what they should feel for.
A man killed a lion.
He didn’t do it to protect himself.
He didn’t do it to feed his family.
He did it because he could, because it gave him a feeling of power in the face of his own human impotence. It doesn’t matter that he lured it from the safety of the wildlife reserve in which it lived. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t know it was a famous lion or that it had a name and a tracking collar. He spent $50,000 to kill a creature of unparalleled beauty and majesty for the fun of doing it.
And if you can’t feel angry about that, if you don’t think others have the right to feel angry about that, then you – very specifically – are the problem with our species, and if you haven’t yet hit the ‘back’ button on your browser, I invite you to do so now.
Still here? Good, I’d hoped there might be a few of us left.
I have found my thoughts drifting, over the last week, again and again to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, specifically to those pivotal moments when Aslan is sacrificed upon the Stone Table, and then the subsequent breaking of that sacrificial altar through the Deeper Magic of his resurrection.
Now, this is a Pagan blog and these are quite obviously Christian allegories, but frankly, I’ve always thought C.S. Lewis did a better job of telling the Christian story than the writers of the Bible. And at least in Narnia a talking snake would not seem so out of place.
I wonder if Dr. Walter Palmer ever read that story as a child, and if he has ever thought of it, as he took aim at a lion, or some other majestic beast. I wonder who’s side he thinks he’s on.
“Round and round the hilltop he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia, and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe