Sad week, not only because of the news that a wealthy Minnesota dentist took the life of a collared, beloved male lion in Zimbabwe so that he could mount the head on a wall, but also because of the controversy this publicity has incited. There are many condemning this publicity, and indeed, even being insulting and nasty to those who have found themselves caring deeply about what happened. Nasty to the point of saying, “You need to get a life if you care that much about a lion. Get yourself to therapy asap.” I’m sure that many of you have seen the “but” posts. “But what about the lives lost in Chatanooga? Don’t they matter?” “What about all the black lives lost due to shootings?” “But what about the xxxx number of babies killed this year in abortion clinics? They’re more important than a lion.”
I’ve heard in many variations, “Human lives matter more than a lion’s life. Enough about the damn lion already.”
I have my own “but” statement.
But that’s where humans have gone off the rails.
We’ve lost that sense of interconnectedness to this world. We live in a vacuum, convinced that we as humans control the world and all that’s in it. We’re entitled to plunder and pillage, raping the land for all its riches, polluting the rivers and oceans, graying the sky with exhaust and emissions from our industry and machines. We kill the animals for food, a largely justifiable reason, but also to satisfy our rich tastes and need for superiority and “sport.” We treat wild animals and birds as commodities. Why? Because we can. Because their lives don’t mean anything compared to our desire to dominate and control. Worry about extinction because the animals are losing their habitat? More important things to worry about! Entire species facing extermination due to abuse and sport? Bigger things to concern ourselves with. They’re just animals after all!
Some religions speak of kindness and care for all animals and living things. I know that Buddhists feel that way. The American Indian people live in harmony with nature, particularly before industrialization took over. I’m sure that most of my congregation in the Unitarian Universalist free-faith tradition support a oneness with nature and contemplate the effects we have on all aspects of our planet.
There is no such thing as “just a lion.” There is no such thing as “just a hive of bees.” There isn’t any “just” in losing a species due to our abuse and neglect and attitude that we’re above all that.
We all live on this planet. What one does affects another…and another….and another. We either live in harmony, appreciating what we have, or we destroy what we have, and it’s gone for all. We are not above it. We dwell with it.
May we be humbled by what we have and recognize our place in this Universe.
Let it be so.