At the age of 55, I may not be universally loved by all those who have met me and my life hasn’t been a bed of roses, but I feel blessed inasmuch as my feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are as high as anyone could wish for. I’ve made a reasonably good job of raising two children, something that’s a work in progress, and I’m able to look back upon a colourful, varied career as a writer, an actor, an archaeologist, a knight and a few other things besides.
As such, I don’t feel the need to improve my standing at the expense of others in any way and as far as the world around me is concerned, I don’t step on ants or snails if I can possibly help it. I’m largely content with who I am and with what I do, so while I still have ambitions and attendant frustrations, no one and no thing suffers as a result of my character or as a result of any setbacks I might encounter.
And so it is that I find myself wondering what kind of totally inadequate cretin and social pariah feels the need to kill a creature such as a lion, in order to make them feel good about their utterly worthless selves. It would be one thing to find oneself possessed by the spirit of Hercules and venture bare-handed into the wilds to pit Man against Beast, but when some complete loser has tens of thousands of pounds with which to hire the services of a tracker and another hunter, then sees fit to fire a crossbow bolt at an animal lured out of its safe compound, letting it suffer for 40 hours before it’s finally shot, beheaded and skinned, I have nothing but sheer lip-curling contempt for such a miserable, pathetic specimen.
I gather that Walter Palmer is the same age as me, but that’s just about all we have in common. He runs a formerly prospering dental practise in Minnesota, so I would have thought that being a well-regarded man in good health with a well-established job and a large disposable income would have been more than enough for him, but he, like so many others of his loathsome kind in America and Europe, chooses to indulge his good fortune by travelling abroad, hunting and killing creatures such as Cecil, the much-loved lion who was quietly minding his own business and thereby acting as a tourist attraction on a reserve in Zimbabwe before he was lured from his domain and slowly murdered for the gratification of a far lesser being than himself.
A few years ago, I was returning from a long walk in the fields and woods surrounding my home when my dog Blueboy found a lone cygnet in a rush-choked waterway. I’d not seen any swans while I’d been wandering the countryside that evening and they’re not birds that you’re likely to forget encountering on account of their sheer size and colour, so I knew immediately that this creature was effectively doomed not to see another sunrise, as there were predators such as herons, mink and foxes in the locality.
Had I been Walter Palmer or one of his depraved breed, I’d have doubtless hurled sticks, clods of mud or stones at this poor creature to further torment it before mutilating it and mounting its head on a stick as a trophy, but I did not. I waded into the deep, muddy pond where it had found itself lost, picked it up, then took it home. On the way, I met one of my neighbours who was about to retire for his evening meal, but instead, he called the RSPCA for me, then immediately set off to scour the local waterways for hours as darkness slowly fell in the hope of finding the cygnet’s family – all this without being asked, because this is what normal people do when presented with the opportunity to lessen the distress of another sentient being.
In recent times, I’ve read countless outbursts by the likes of the cowardly Walter Palmer and Rebecca Francis, all employing euphemisms such as ‘harvesting’ or otherwise retreating into insane philosophical abstractions in a futile attempt to justify their sadistic minority pastime. They additionally speak of people such as myself in disparaging terms, trying to argue that we fail to grasp how trophy hunters are the true guardians of our wildlife and dismissing us as ‘treehuggers’ and the like, but whenever I’ve seen a swan since the day I’ve just described, I’ve thought of the creature I saved and I’ve been proud that I’ve added in some small way to the sum total of beauty and happiness in the world; furthermore, it’s good to know I’m not alone because every day, the world over, countless other normal men and women conduct themselves in the same way that I do, so it’s gratifying for me to be a part of Team Civilisation.
To boast of killing is not part of my life, nor can I imagine that it ever would be, in any circumstances. If I’m to be defined at all on account of my actions, or judged in this world or the next, then of all my accomplishments, I would like to be known as a man who once saved a cygnet, not as a complete failure who tortured, killed, beheaded and flayed a lion called Cecil. If you’re of the same mind as me, if you’d like to publicly register your disgust at killings like these and if you’d like to make a difference, then I would please ask you to take just a few seconds of your time to sign this petition.
“Can I see another’s woe
And not be in sorrow, too?
Can I see another’s grief
And not seek for kind relief?”