Early last month, a famous lion named Cecil was found dead in Zimbabwe, just outside the national park where he lived as a protected animal.
A couple days later, it was revealed that Cecil's killer was Walter Palmer, an American dentist from Minnesota, who paid 50,000 dollars to have the lion "baited" out of the park's safety and into the sights of the dentist, who has become the international face of American greed and easily one of the world's most hated men.
Cecil's slaying is undisputedly a tragedy-- the lion was an innocent creature of God (in addition to being a national symbol of Zimbabwe), and it was killed in vain-- for fun and for heinous sport. It was absolutely senseless, and it's sparked a global debate on big game hunting and the role that protected wildlife plays in sport.
In response, internet activists and social justice warriors have come out of the woodwork online to speak out about animal rights. Sad pictures of the lion lying on the desert ground are circulating social media, and pundits everywhere are giving commentary on Cecil's killing (add me to the list, I guess).
Jimmy Kimmel even cried about Cecil on national television, begging people to donate to the Oxford Wildlife Conservation Unit, an organization that was using Cecil in a long-term study on African lions. (Note: at the time of writing, that plea had resulted in 150,000 dollars in donations.)
"The big question is: Why are you shooting a lion in the first place? I mean, I'm honestly curious to know why a human being would feel compelled to do that. "How is that fun?"
I agree with Jimmy Kimmel wholeheartedly that it was pathetic, but I have to ask him and everyone else suddenly fired up about Cecil this:
What about Sandra Bland, another innocent creature of God? What about Samuel DuBose, or any of the other Americans who are still falling victim to police brutality in our own country?
What about the 15 million American children living in food insecure households?
Even further from home, what about the thousands of African children enslaved to military service on the same continent as Cecil the Lion?
What about the people in Africa who struggle every day to just find safe drinking water? Why is nobody crying on national television about them?
Why are we silent on these less fashionable issues, but then rise to arms when an animal is killed?
I don't know the answer to that question, but I believe it could be due to the fact that it's much easier to look at a photo of an animal lying on the ground than it is to consider a child forced to brutally murder innocent people.
I believe it's because as millennials, we're given the opportunity to pick and choose what information we give and receive, so naturally, we avert from the road less traveled, and we avoid things not as comfortable as #CecilTheLion.
There's so much more happening in the world than #CecilTheLion. While it's encouraging to see people engaging in current events, I only wish the plight of our own human brothers and sisters brought us as much outrage as a dead animal in the African desert.