On lions and the deeper tragedy

I diverge from my norm again today and travel (in mind’s eye) to Africa. And because this has weighed heavy on my heart all day, I write…

I lost a little bit of faith in humanity today.

I read an article this morning about a man who flew to Africa from the heart of America and paid a local guide to lure an exquisite lion out of its sanctuary so he could kill it and bring home the head and skin as a trophy for his living room. $55,000 for the life of a protected, endangered, much-beloved beast who leaves 24 offspring, sure to be killed by the next male in the pride.

So $55,000 was paid for the lives of 25 endangered animals. He is not remorseful for the kill, the ‘taking.’ And so the news reports say, he blames his guide for the wrongdoing. This man has been internationally shamed, and is sure to lose more than his pride…though that’s not the real tragedy.

We’re this species empowered with the ability to reason, be compassionate, think independently, make informed decisions; to love, to hate, and exhibit (or bury) every conceivable quality in between.

Yet, day after day, week, month, year, decade and century, we’ve proved undeniably that we are nothing less than spectacularly self-indulgent children. Ego-maniacal creatures that want more and more and take all that they can get. Because, of course, we live in a land of plenty. There is always more. But what if, one day, there just wasn’t?

We’ve got this phenomenal opportunity to make a difference. Yet we make a mess, we take for granted, we impose, occupy, fight, cheat and lie (oh, and kill). In the process, in the name of progress (and capitalism), we destroy habitats and virgin forests. Houses get bigger, resources smaller; consumption becomes endemic; want becomes pandemic. Need does not matter.

I shed tears today over a lion I’ve never seen, who lived on a continent I’ve not yet visited. Not because of the ‘taking,’ but what has been symbolically taken. What can’t be bought, I wonder? What happened to our reverence for the natural world?

And I’m still not certain who the larger piece of dirt is – the man who wrote the check or the man who accepted it.

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