In the outpouring of grief and outrage, many people are saddened that there are so many animals that die without a name. There are so many victims of hunting, so many victims of factory farms, so many victims of our inept shelter system, so many victims in Tajii. For some, the grief surrounding Cecil is compounded because these animals die without any memorial or tribute. It is true. And that is sad. So, so sad.
Cecil will forever be in our hearts as that friendly lion, beloved by all, lured away by the darker side of a soulless man, a man who now represents the horrors of trophy hunting.
Meanwhile, our hearts are so broken. We unite because we can identify a persona, an essence and a name. By naming and identifying one animal in this madness, we can protect. The name coupled with the persona tugs at the care taking part of our soul.
Look at some beings whose persona/essence we identified and because they have a name and a face, they have pulled our heart strings, transmuting our perception that then brings about change: Rosa Parks, Mathew Shepard, Malala, the dogs of Bad Newz kennels, Koko, Barbaro, Tiger – the cat that was recently by a vet with a bow and arrow, the dog on the roof of the house during hurricane Katrina and many, many more.
Unfortunately, without a name, a face, a context, we don’t engage. It becomes another story that whizzes by in an overstimulated world.
By mixing in the suffering of the named/recognizable beings with our grief, the alchemical outcome is, these particular beings have elevated all of us. We have identified and recognized the need for more protection for these particular beings that represent many, many, many more beings that have come before and (sadly) after, beings that have been the victims of unspeakable human cruelty.
Lolita, Keiko and Tilikum are the face of all that is reprehensible about orcas in captivity. With a face, a character, a story, a persona, a context, we all want to take Sea World down.
Cecil, the family guy, the lion whose essence exemplifies the kind of lion that would walk among men has been brutally tortured and murdered. Cecil is calling forth for us to come together. We must protect and care for our shrinking animal kingdom.
My hope is this collective grief will transform into the superpower of compassion, care and stewardship for the nameless and the icons alike.