The Lion Sleeps Tonight … R.I.P.

I would ask you, and others like you who claim this type of behaviour is acceptable, to consider the following, and perhaps, even more importantly, you might consider making appropriate reparations for the damage and pain and dishonour that you now have incurred.

You callously and coldly subverted local people to help you do something that you personally had neither the skills, the integrity, neither the moral nor ethical right, to do and then claim that it was all legal.

The laws of Nature, the process of evolution, are not fully understood by us humans, since we have over time developed the fanciful notion that we are separated from the rest of our relations on the planet, and that those laws do not apply to us.

Note: You may like to listen to this music while you read. Be sure to open the link in a new window (<alternative Click> and select <Open link in new window>):

1. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XJuEuRCKq1s> (Ladysmith Black Mambazo)

2. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_LBmUwi6mEo> (The Tokens)

Open letter to:

Walter J Palmer, Dentist
10851 Rhode Island Ave. S
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438

Topic: The killing of a much-loved Lion King in Zimbabwe, 2015.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Dear Walter Palmer,

Your recent exploits in Africa have been broadcast all over the Internet. I give you credit for not hiding behind anonymity and instead admitting what you did. Nevertheless that apology, though necessary in a civilised society, is totally inadequate.  I would ask you, and others like you who claim this type of behaviour is acceptable,  to consider the following, and perhaps, even more importantly, you might consider making appropriate reparations for the damage and pain and dishonour that you now have incurred.

  1. If you are the responsible hunter you claim to be, then “not realising” is not an option. You were killing for “sport”, or for some other known or unknown reason, because clearly you are in a lucrative profession and surely you did not kill for food.
  2. If you paid the park guides that much money to assist you in your work of desecration of Nature, then I can only presume that the high price you paid is a bribe, official or not. The park guides are also implicated in your crime. Just another example of how wealth corrupts and implicates others. Even though they were complicit in your appalling behaviour, how will they now fare as a result of taking your blood money?
  3. Why was it necessary to decapitate such a noble beast? A trophy for your unsated lust for violence? And skinned? I notice that many visitors to your web site suggested that skinning alive or dead would be too good for you. I would prefer to find out why you thought it necessary or desireable to slaughter that lion for “sport”, before agreeing with them. [Note that Walter Palmer’s Facebook page has been closed within the past few hours. A number of alternative “hate” pages have been lodged now.]
  4. The subtlety of your claim that the hunting trip was “legal” may satisfy your conscience, inured, as your country and American society, in general, continues to demonstrate, to the worship of guns and violence. Wake up, Walter! You no longer are a frontiersman committing genocide against the Indigenous people of your colonised land. You are a mindless, conscienceless, barbarian, destroying a creature whose DNA is similar and partly shared with you, and for what? Do you feel better from the experience? Did you participate in the skinning and beheading? Or did you, as a noble “White Hunter”, sit back and let the “Natives” do your bidding? I bet you hadn’t the courage to look that noble animal in the eyes when you killed him.
  5. Hired professional guides? Secured all proper permits? Nonsense! Lies! Perversion! You subverted local hunters who are paid to protect those lands, those threatened species. They surely were not permitted to kill that Lion. In fact the Safari Park officials have said the killing was illegal. What is “proper” about the permits you received? More legalistic nonsense and self-serving delusion.
  6. Your professional qualifications suggest that you are not an uneducated man. It is a blatant lie to say that the trip was “legal”, it is clear that it was not “properly handled” because of the bribes you paid, and it most certainly was not “(properly) conducted”. You are responsible for your actions. You are an unlicensed killer.
  7. You claim that you “had no idea that the lion (you) took was a known, etc.” When our hunting ancestors tracked their prey, they did so in a way that they first came to know as much as possible about their quarry. Their shamans advised them which quarry it was that they were permitted to hunt. They apologised to the generic spirit of the animal and thanked it for giving up its life for them. You broke that code. You severed the bond that humans once had with Nature. You should be excluded from decent human society till, like the scape-goat, you too die in the wilderness, alone and unloved. It is clear from the reports that the Lion in question was loved.
  8. You speak of your “regret that (your) pursuit of an activity (you) love and practice responsibly and legally” led to this result. What self-deluding, totally self-seeking, and irrational and fabricated nonsense! You callously and coldly subverted local people to help you do something that you personally had neither the skills, the integrity, neither the moral nor ethical right, to do and then claim that it was all legal.
  9. It is clearly to be inferred from the report of the statement made by Conservation Chief Johnny Rodrigues, that you were merely a bloodthirsty foreign tourist relying upon local professional hunters, seeking to sate some primeval lust lurking in your immature mind that would give you some expensive “kicks” to entertain you.
  10. It appears that those whom you bribed to collude with you may now face jail sentences. I will not comment upon this as your beloved Law must decide their fates. Would that you could be extradited to face the same charges. The honourable thing to do, of course, would be to return voluntarily and face the same laws that they now face. I am referring to the laws that you quoted in support of your right to hunt. The ZPHGA “insists” that Cecil, the Lion, “was killed illegally.” Just to remind you, “illegally” means that it was not done legally, despite your pathetic protestations to the contrary.
  11. Was the animal beheaded because you realised the significance of the GPS collar? I presume that with your privileged position and the wealth in your society in America, you will be aware of the significance of a GPS collar. Were you guiltily trying to destroy the evidence and cover up your own tracks as well as destroying the tracks of the Lion?
  12. The laws of Nature, the process of evolution, are not fully understood by us humans, since we have over time developed the fanciful notion that we are separated from the rest of our relations on the planet, and that those laws do not apply to us. So your killing of the Lion King will now lead inevitably to the destruction of his progeny by the new King. Such is the nature of the Lion. If you were the professional hunter you claim to be, then you would have been aware of that effect and the consequences of your actions. Would you wish to add the heads of those cubs to your trophy wall also? Really, Walter, you will have so many unsettling memories to deal with, I hope your nerves can handle it. It would be dreadful for your professional career as a dentist if you clients detected the slightest tremble in your hand. The eyes of that noble animal will forever seek yours now, asking you “Why”? Have you an honest answer that doesn’t depend on spurious legality and subverted testimony? May those eyes follow your movements now for the rest of your days, until eventually you too are tracked down and faced by the Grim Reaper, alone, defenceless, on some empty savannah plain of life, and meet your own pitiless karmic fate. As above, so below; as within, so without. So mote it be.

That quotation from Thomas Berry really got to me!

I was stopped in my tracks by a quotation from Thomas Berry

These Cosmic dynamics have been active for billions of years and have enabled us to come this far.That, surely, is sufficient reason for us to believe that the guiding principle are still at work.

Having confidence in the future is one essential component, without doubt, if we are to tackle the problems. But we also need to develop new ways of working that make us an aware participant in evolution, …

ThomasBerry2014-FrontCover
Thomas Berry

Today I started on the 4th module of the Pachamama Programme, Game Changing Initiative, the primary focus of which is on Evolutionary Activism and how to engage collectively with the huge issues facing the world we live in. I was stopped in my tracks by a quotation from Thomas Berry [check <http://www.thomasberry.org/Books/>]. He reminds me a lot of a similar writer, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, [see: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin>%5D from the 1950s who sowed the seeds for a break from the traditional ideas about religion to engagement with an ongoing spiritual process encompassing evolution and the cosmos. Initially he was rejected by both Vatican and Jesuits alike. Incidentally I was given a present of his book, “The Phenomenon of Man” by the late Val Rice (former Chair of Education at Trinity College Dublin (1966-2005)) who was a student with me in University College, Cork. Val gave it to me as payment-in-kind when I gave him a grind in maths-physics to help catch up after he joined our class late in the term (1961)!

Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Rather than present the quote (which I will do below, for the record), let me try to put it in my own words and in the context of our exchanges on Facebook. Most of us today are familiar with images of the Universe captured and delivered to us by the Hubble Telescope. Irrespective of religious beliefs or none, we all marvel at the sight of our galaxy, dwarfed in the midst of so many other galaxies in the unfathomable depths of the Cosmos.

When we look at the small blue planet, our home, which is in turn dwarfed by the size of our galaxy, we struggle to comprehend the relationship between that speck of life and the infinite space around it. We seem, however, to be agreed, in some way we don’t yet fully understand, that the dynamics of that Cosmos, from the very beginning at the Big Bang, right up this moment of Now, shaped the course of development of the heavens that we see above us on a starry night, they lit up the Sun upon which we depend totally for all forms of life, and they formed our own planet Earth.

Pachamama - Mother Earth -Our Home
Pachamama – Mother Earth -Our Home

These Cosmic dynamics have been active for billions of years and have enabled us to come this far.That, surely, is sufficient reason for us to believe that the guiding principles are still at work.  Yet nowadays, Planet Earth is under severe stress, not only from climate change brought about largely by human activity, but also from the exhausting of irreplaceable animal and mineral resources. Even the survival of our own human species is under threat. At local levels, in every country, conflicts are emerging, governments are failing to provide a social and environmental setting in which people, all people, can live meaningful lives, work in jobs that have meaning and reward them, feel secure and not exploited. Every day, I see reports about problems filtering from colleagues around the globe, telling me about the conflict between the EU/Troika/IMF and an impoverished Greece. Within my own country of Ireland, there is mounting anger because of the way in which austerity policies continue to hit the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, established jobs have been wiped out, artificial employment as “trainees” and in “work experience programmes” are being offered to the unemployed whose skills have become redundant, while the richest individuals and corporations seem to be getting ever richer. From planetary destruction to the loss of jobs locally, what can we do? Just turn our faces to the wall and die miserable, neglected and alone? Or is there something we can do about it? There is! We can, therefore we must!

pollution and waste
Pollution and Waste

I believe that the framing of a question is critical to the answer we receive. Perhaps we should rephrase the question if we are serious about finding an answer to our current question. In reality, there is probably little that we can do from our own resources, at local, national, and some international levels, based upon the results of our previous efforts. The question that we face is: How can we work, together, at all levels in society, with the dynamics of the Cosmos, that have brought us this far, to adjust our lives to being part of the process of evolution rather than fighting against it, like some blind Titan, standing alone, upon a Hill in Hebron, cursing the Gods he does not know or understand?

This is the  quotation from Thomas Berry, I mentioned above:

“If the dynamics of the universe, from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth… there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened our present understanding of ourselves and our relationship to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.”
[Thomas Berry
]

Rodin - The ThinkerHaving confidence in the future is one essential component, without doubt, if we are to tackle the problems. But we also need to develop new ways of working that make us an aware participant in evolution, rather than merely an outsider to a process which appears to conflict with the main ideologies in current favour. How can that be done. As part of the Pachamama Programme in which I am participating with others from around the globe, I am trying to explore ways in which I can contribute, no matter how small and insignificant the effort of an individual may be in comparison with the enormity of the challenge. At such times as this, I am often reminded of a folk song I heard and sang in the 1960s. It is the rallying call composed by Woody Guthrie in the Dustbowl of the US in the 1930s – “Two and two and fifty make a million”!

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett

I shall be writing from time to time about my progress, or lack of it, as the case may be; of the ideas generated by my colleagues and other participants in the Programme; and I would love to hear from readers of this blog about their views and any work that they are doing in this area. Let;s not turn our faces to the wall, just yet ;-D. I hear two calling another two, and I can see another fifty becoming active! We will get there. As Samuel Beckett, a great Irish writer and Nobel Prize winner, once wrote: “I can’t go on, I must go on, I will go on”.