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Of Glass Houses and Stones

August 25, 2015 5 comments

Now that we are done with our horror over the killing of Cecil the lion by the American dentist Walter Palmer and have moved on to outraging on whatever is the current peeve on social media, it’s interesting to look at what exactly got our collective goats and led to so much uproar.

Image source: internet

Image source: internet

From all the posts and comments that flooded my timeline when the news broke out, the prevailing sentiment was that it was inhuman for Palmer to kill another creature (and a magnificent lion at that), just for the sake of indulging himself. Of course, he also made a legal transgression, in that the killing was done outside the game park, but that didn’t seem to cause too much angst. The global audience that collectively bemoaned poor Cecil’s fate was unanimous in dissing the dentist mainly for his total lack of empathy towards another living creature and utterly selfish hedonism.

The whole episode is a classic case of our eagerness to pass judgement and condemn others, while being smugly convinced of our own righteousness. It is reasonable to assume that a significant percentage of those who hauled Palmer over the coals, are meat eaters in our diet preference. In other words, as part of our daily lives, we make a conscious choice each day to be directly responsible for the killing of another living species just for our own sensory pleasure and indulgence. We are all aware of the videos on the internet that depict the horrific processes endemic in the poultry industry (if you are not familiar with these, a simple search for ‘poultry animal torture’, or some such phrase, will be enlightening).

And all the vegetarians who are smirking with a beatific glow on our heads while reading this…  remember how good that exquisite silk saree/kurta feels on our skin as we admire ourselves in the mirror?  Of course, images of live silkworms being dropped in boiling water don’t make headlines on TV, in contrast to that of a man with a bow standing over a dead lion. Leather shoes, belts, wallets….millions of animals slaughtered each year to feed our vanity. We can all just blissfully pretend that none of that happens.

I am not trying to defend Walter Palmer for what he did, but the point is that in terms of the principle involved, all of us are equally culpable.

As I grow older, the one thing that I’m more and more certain of is that most things in life are grey, and it almost always becomes a case of living in glass houses and throwing stones.

I find it useful to try and remember what my paati told me when I was a  boy – if you ever feel like pointing a finger at someone or something, pause and reflect… there are three that are pointing at you.

Disclosures:

  1. Am mainly vegetarian, also take pleasure in partaking my share of the meat on the table during social occasions.
  2. Not a fan of silk, but it’s more a reflection of my non-existent fashion quotient than any moral or ethical high-ground.
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