Cecil Was More Than Just One Lion, by Jesse Sykes

cecil((((Facebook is aggregating all the people in my pipeline that feel Cecil the lion is getting too much “air time” or they just don’t “understand” all the hoopla- and there seems to be an empathy war going on between all the injustices out there. Also, thee “if you eat meat why do you care?” tactic being thrown around…I left this comment (see below) on a thread elsewhere, but they blocked me (I’ve edited it a tiny bit since I posted it, so it makes sense out of the context of my response to them.) It applies to a handful of posts I’ve seen in the last 48 hours that have my cort levels going through the roof…..I’ll take the hit and look like another crazy ding dong on FB.. I’m ok with that .)))

I wish you’d stop saying “one lion” in your posts about being “baffled” by people’s outcry over this….there are many reasons why people like myself are outraged by this incident in particular. Instead of discrediting people who care about this–tell them they shouldn’t feel the way they do, maybe you (and others) could try and understand why people do. Maybe you think you are, but the fact you’re setting up a straw man with the issue of veganism (the ole’ “if you eat meat, why would you care?”) implies you just want to challenge people without being challenged, doesn’t address the issue, and just serves your agenda of discrediting those who care.

First of all, the Cecil incident is different from many other viral posts in that the facts are clear and indisputable—this isn’t a “he said, she said” situation or question of something taken out of context. So, the fact that so many people are upset about it can’t be dismissed in this way—we all know what happened and if you’re upset about it or not, at least we can agree on the facts. As I said before, there are many reasons to be outraged about this—it is not an isolated incident, hundreds of lions are hunted this way every year. Yes, the lion has a name, but that’s because people knew this lion.

cecil2That makes a difference—it had value to a lot of people for a lot of good reasons—conservation, science, education, its beauty, and to those that knew him well, Cecil was an individual with a personality. All of this increases his value to people and the fact that this was taken away for a senseless and cruel reason is heartbreaking.

And there’s the issue of the dentist—we can’t take this out of the equation. Why is he the object of so much hatred? Because we saw the veil pulled back—he was outed for something others do all the time. He has no integrity and committed this cruel act for nothing but his ego and lies. If all he ever wanted to do in life was to kill a famous lion in this ridiculous and unsporting way, and he went back to Minnesota and told it exactly like it happened and was proud of it, felt good, then well, he at least has integrity. But, we all know this isn’t the case—he was going to keep it a secret, put that head on his wall and pretend to have done something brave and adventurous, when in reality he did something cruel for his own disingenuous agenda. Can you imagine him trying to impress his clientele by saying, “yeah, I sat in the truck while my guides lured this lion that was trusting of people out of the park with bait, shot him point blank, unsuspectingly, and yeah, he had a gps collar which made it illegal, but we just figured we’d destroy the collar”…pretty sexy huh? Trophy hunting is ethically wrong in my opinion, but this doesn’t even qualify as trophy hunting. What’s he getting a trophy for?

And it brings up the issue of poaching in general and the alarming and sad decline of lions (>50% in 30 years) and many other iconic animals to feed people’s egos (e.g., elephants for ivory and rhinos for horns).

These are just some of the issues of why this is so sad—and if you don’t get it, well, you don’t get it. But, why would you judge others for caring about something they should care about, just because you don’t “understand” it. Those that bring up other issues to discredit people’s feeling about this are doing exactly what they claim to be against, judging others because they don’t identify with them (e.g., cops that terrorize people because of their race, women’s rights issues etc., basically all the other things you’ve said are “more important” then the lion). But, no one is saying these things are any less important. FB pipelines are not a measure of reality in terms of what people truly feel at any given moment…there’s a danger in taking the snapshot aspect of it all too seriously (as I may be doing here myself admittedly.) and dismissing the overarching aspect that things do slowly evolve over time in the offline world, on the ground where it matters most… I mean, I didn’t post (til now) about this issue, or Sandra Bland… Does that mean I don’t care? (I’m just rarely on FB.)

It’s great this beautiful creature can bring attention to this horrible reality and not die in vain and I think it’s great people are outraged, but it’s impossible to have a conversation with people like yourself who just want to dismiss people’s feelings because you do not share them or understand them. Why do you think “you’re” that important?

I am touched by the fact that people are talking about this and maybe some good will come out of it, (e.g., the USFWS is planning to list them as threatened so more resources will be directed toward their conservation and environmental protection). Why is this bad? Do you think people can’t be that good? Or maybe you feel guilty or threatened because you’re not?

Lastly, digital space is endless, so the claim its “taking up media space” doesn’t hold water-and the human hearts ability to hold more than one sorrowful thing at a time has been tested through the ages-it was designed to take a brutal beating, clearly…

Jesse Sykes

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