Cecile the Lion, the American Dentist, and Instagram

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Let’s talk about trophy hunting.

I want to hear from the people who think its “OK” to kill animals purely for the sport of it. If you are such a person, I’d love to hear why you think it’s OK and what you enjoy about the experience. What do you get out of it (and I’m not talking about a head – or a tusk – or a pelt) – I mean, what do you get out of it emotionally?

I’m not being a sarcastic left wing dick — I’m truly curious.

When I see a lion, an elephant, a leopard, or a rhino, my first thought isn’t “man would I love to kill that thing”.  To be honest, I can’t imagine ever thinking that way. But there are people out there who shell out serious coin to star in their own wildlife snuff film — and I just don’t get it.

Not being raised in a hunting culture, the thought of killing a living creature purely for the thrill of it — then posting pictures of the kill on social media — disturbs me at an elemental level. When I see these pictures flash across my TV, or when I see them online in stories about hunting — I experience a rush of anger, dismay, and befuddlement.

I know the person standing over that dead lion, or elephant, or leopard, or rhino is human like me. But the “common humanity” that would normally connect me to these people, gets obliterated when I see these photographs. Suddenly, the person in that picture is not like me at all. My connection to him or her — on a purely human level – evaporates.

Besides barbarism disguised as bravado, what I see most in these pictures of grinning humans standing over beautiful dead animals, is ego and entitlement. If I had to caption the image, I would surely use those two words. The pictures exude an ideological view of man’s dominion over all creatures – you get a real sense that these people believe the purpose of the lion, the elephant, the leopard, and the rhino is to satisfy an evolutionary hardwired human desire to hunt and kill – a blood-lust.

The things I don’t see in these pictures are our “higher” human qualities; decency and kindness; empathy and appreciation; respect and civility. And though I don’t know any of the people in these pictures, I immediately see them as lacking these higher human qualities. I suppose we need to guard against this, because once that happens, it becomes easy to treat these people as less than human, which can lead to a social-media-mob-justice that we are witnessing in the Cecil the lion case.

My hope is that over time, we humans become a little less human and a little more humane – that more of us evolve towards the higher human qualities, where we finally put an end to the practice of trophy hunting.

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