I know its been a few weeks since I last posted but I am slowly going to get back into the routine in the coming weeks as my sabbatical winds down and life returns to “normal.” I am continuing my read through the Gospels but just haven’t posted pics recently. A few thoughts, however, have been swirling in my head the last week or so since we got back in town. About 3 weeks ago, I had never heard of Samuel DuBose or Ray Tensing or Cecil the Lion or Walter Palmer. In the last few weeks however, its been hard to not know much about them, especially living here in Cincinnati (referring to Mr DuBose and Officer Tensing).
The picture for this post is one that I took about a month or so ago while in Kruger National Park in South Africa. I was not especially close to this beautiful male lion (long zoom lens), but I loved this shot and how it captures so many of the details of this beautiful creature’s face. It matches a similar picture I took at night where the lion’s face was illuminated only by the lamp we had in our jeep. While in South Africa, we saw so many beautiful animals in our various experiences – from cheetahs and meerkats in Cape Town to penguins and whales in the waters near Robben Island to sharks and seals in Mossel Bay to Elephants and Warthogs in Addo to Lions and hippos in Kruger (with many more not named). We were reminded time and time again of the fragility of the creation around us and the harm that we are doing on a daily basis in the acts of omission and comission that we are all a part of. We saw discarded plastic grocery bags blowing in the wind in the middle of the Transkei region as well as waterlogged plastic bags that washed ashore at Mossel Bay. We saw rhinos in a rescue park whose horns were cut off to literally save their lives from the potential actions of poachers. And we were reminded over and over about the dangers that so many animals face because of the actions we humans are taking.
I share this first part to clearly state that I think that what Dr Palmer did (along with the others he hunted with) was a despicable act from everything that I have read to this point. I obviously do not know all the details, but what I have seen and read makes it very much feel like he and the others had to know what they were doing in luring this lion out of the park and trying to destroy the evidence of their actions. I do hope that if there were illegal actions taken that all involved are brought to justice.
At the same time, I have been (especially living here in Cincinnati) hearing about the shooting of Samuel DuBuose during a routine traffic stop by Officer Ray Tensing of the UC Police Department. I don’t need to recount all of what took place, but again from what I have seen and read about what took place, it is clear to me that the indictment of Officer Tensing was appropriate and necessary to bring justice. Of course, he has not been found guilty, but that is why we have a trial system and I pray that he will get a fair trial and I pray that justice will be brought for Mr DuBose and for his family.
I find it interesting to look at the front page of news websites today and the last few days and see many more stories about the killing of Cecil the Lion than about the killing of Samuel DuBose. Just doing a search on google news this morning showed 17 million results that came up on a search for Cecil the Lion and about 1.5 million for Samuel DuBose. I understand that some of that is due to the fact that one is more a US story and one is a story that took place in Africa (hence more news outlets), but that alone cannot explain the disparity.
It breaks my heart that there seems to be a greater outrage for the senseless killing of a lion in Africa than the killing of a black man during a routine traffic stop right here in Cincinnati. News stories post the outraged Twitter posts of celebrities and politicians speaking out against Dr. Palmer, but no similar posts of those same celebrities about Samuel DuBose. In saying this I am not in any way justifying or supporting what Dr Palmer did in Zimbabwe, but I am noting that there is something wrong in our priorities from what we see and hear around us in the last few weeks. A friend of mine who is also a pastor here in Cincinnati posted on Facebook the other day that Jesus undoubtedly wept over Cincinnati as we waited for the press conference announcing whether officer Tensing would be indicted.
I think that Jesus weeps over our world and the ways that we have devalued life in so many ways. We devalue life in the ways that we casually treat animals and creation like its something that is not in danger. And we devalue life when the life of an black man seems to be less important than the story of a lion.