A couple of weeks ago I read an article published by a writer for the Odyssey at the University of Kentucky entitled, “The One Thing Nobody’s Saying About Cecil the Lion”. The article itself was well written and brought up a lot of valid points, however, its underlying theme of ‘what about everybody else?’ is something with which I respectively disagree.
Cecil's death was tragic and should never have happened— this much the author of the other article and I agree on— but aside from re-shifting my focus on animal rights, I've also come to realize that there is this growing trend among Americans that causes us to delegitimize tragedies by shifting the focus to other events. Don't believe me? Turn on your television.
Now, flip to a story on Cecil the Lion and I can guarantee that later there will be a handful of people screaming, "But what about Planned Parenthood?" Flip to a story on another mass shooting, and there will be people screaming, "But what about all of the knife deaths in the country?" Flip to a story on climate change and people will be shifting the focus to ISIS and other terror threats. Flip to a story on white-on-black crime and people will brush it off and turn their attention to black-on-black crime statistics. The list goes on and on, but the fact remains the same: here in America, we like spending more time arguing about which event is more important rather than which event we should tackle first.
Why is it that we have to compare tragedies? Is there something wrong with being upset about the death of Cecil? Does the fact that he's a lion really negate the overall importance of preserving the other species that inhabit our planet? Should we feel guilty that we are getting choked up over an animal rather than a person? I mean, if that's the case then where does this sliding scale of importance end?
I agree wholeheartedly that there is a lot more happening in the world than the death of a single lion in Africa— but that doesn’t make his death any less important. In fact, it just shows that there is more than one cause out there that is worth fighting for and we shouldn’t delegitimize something that a person is passionate about just because we don’t deem it important.
So if you're passionate about fighting for animal rights— go for it.
If you want to protest the ongoing police brutality problem— do it.
If you want to donate money and raise awareness for poverty levels around the world— have at it.
There shouldn’t have to be a competition for causes and there is no need to rank tragedies when we, as humans, have the ability to conquer more than one injustice at a time. Each one of these happenings are important and each one needs to be dealt with, but if we spend more time arguing about which cause is more ‘legitimate’, more ‘relevant’, or more ‘important’, and less time discussing the actual problem, the only thing we are going to succeed at is ensuring that none of these issues are ever solved.