Nobody could have failed to miss the furore in the news recently about the shooting of Cecil the Lion. In fact, from the way the story has been received it’s almost as if it were an assassination rather than what Walter Palmer would consider to be a trophy killing.
Personally, I welcome the outrage that’s greeted the shooting. African lions are an endangered species as are any mammal, bird or reptile above a certain size that isn’t bred for food. The opinion that the lesser attention paid to the daily slaughter of humans around the world, not to mention the unbalanced treatment of the murder of white as opposed to Black, Asian, Muslim or Hispanic humans, reveals a kind of misplaced set of liberal ethics is quite simply misguided.
What this incident exposes is that whereas on the one hand, the majority of humanity now accepts that the carnage against wildlife and nature has gone too far and needs to be actively reversed, there is a minority, protected by wealth, education and nationality, who believe that they are above the greater good of the planet and can behave exactly as they wish.
It’s not just Walter Palmer, dentist and international pariah, who is at fault, it’s all those pampered, privileged people in America, Britain, and other nations in the world that treat the wealthy as somehow superior beings whose whims have to be respected. And so with a few thousand American dollars, these relatively wealthy individuals can jump on a plane, shoot an endangered animal, get their picture taken and fly home. Or they can eat Shark’s Fin Soup, use powdered Rhino horn as an aphrodisiac or use the might of the legal profession to allow themselves to dump toxic chemicals wherever they wish.
The whole world is on a precipice and more and more of us (disproportionately those not in the privileged West) now understand that climate change, environmental degradation and poverty are a great deal more important than keeping a couple of thousand asylum seekers out of the UK (scarcely a swarm), fighting a counterproductive war against terror (of which there is much more now than when the war began), following a policy of austerity where the suffering and pain is inflicted on those who work the hardest and have the least wealth, and elevating the convenience and pleasure of the already privileged over that of the rest of humanity by regressive taxation and punitive cuts in social services.
And besides the political and ethical concerns regarding the murder of Cecil the Lion, there is the interesting and not much discussed issue which is how we now all (with the exception of the few) recognise our individual responsibility in managing the planet we live in and that this extends to the wild animals that we once feared (for good reason) and which now have most to fear from us. We are the Guardians perhaps not of the Galaxy (and maybe never if we carry on like this), but of Planet Earth and it only takes a few miscreants and criminals protected by their wealth to fuck it up for everyone and everything else.