Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cecil the Lion is a Tragedy, But Where is the Outrage for Brutalized People?

An American dentist decided to go on a hunt to a Zimbabwe; a country with lax wildlife protections, and trusted that his guides were taking him on a legitimate hunt. He ended up killing a protected lion and also the cubs of that lion, which will be eaten by the next dominant
male to come around. The animal suffered for hours from the bow shot went wrong, and was eventually shot and beheaded so this man could have a trophy.  What he did was illegal, and reprehensible, His guides have been charged with crimes, yet he was able to leave the country unhindered.

The internet exploded with outrage. We must avenge the Lion! But where was this level of outrage for the human toll that the War on Terror, police brutality, corporate exploitation, and sex trafficking have had on the human population? Why do we care more about this particular lion than other human beings?

Of course, these are very different things, and it is certainly possible to find Cecil the Lion's death horrifying, and also find injustice and exploitation around the word equally horrible. But it is a part of human nature to see animals as helpless bystanders in the world, so often high profile cases of animal slaughter such as this garner a lot of sympathy and anger. Yet we somehow fail to see other humans in the same way, especially when they are from poor countries, or of different ethnic backgrounds.

In the West we have dehumanized suffering to such an extent that the deaths of countless people every day from gun violence and police brutality in the US,  the abuse and exploitation of workers in Bangladesh to make our clothing, or the plight of the children who pick the cocoa for our chocolate doesn't seem to connect with us in the same way.

Right now there are thousands of migrants trying to get into UK  through the Chanel tunnel. These are people fleeing war and poverty in countries effected by the Western War on Terror and the rise of ISIS, which was created by it. The UK Prime Minister Cameron called them "hoards". The UK is not a "safe haven" he said, yet he seems to want to do little to make the countries where these people come from safer. It is not unlike the waves of austerity governments around the world that are punishing the poorest and most vulnerable in order to pay back banks with billions in profits, while failing to do anything about the richest of the rich who hoard their riches in tax havens.

We see the poor as somehow less human, and the new age of austerity further punishes the poor for simply existing, or heaven forbid, having children. It appears as though we have regressed as a caring society. What we have today in 2015 is a  return to the Victorian attitude, where the poor were put into institutions while the rich lived in guarded estates with huge amounts of private property, and people continue to fail to see it.

Yes, the death of Cecil the Lion is a tragedy, and maybe we can all learn something from it. But when will we start having sympathy for other human beings again?

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