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Why We Feel Better if we Care About Cecil the Lion

I’m going to start here by saying that I don’t feel particularly protective of this particular big game hunting dentist (but I do feel for his wife and kids). There are hunters in my family, bow-hunters even, but they do the hunting themselves, and there’s an investment of time, and personal skill, and what they hunt actually gets eaten by their families, and sometimes me.

Maybe this guy was hunting legally, probably he wasn’t. I think we can agree that modern trophy-hunting seems a bit, um, off somehow. But that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is the near-universal outcry of horror over the death of Cecil the lion.

There has been a deep and very genuine sadness and disgust across this country, (at least the social-media-using part of the country) over the death of one particular lion who happened to have a name. And what it tells me is that we as a society are hungry for a moral absolute. We need to be able to recognize and agree upon something, ANYTHING, as actually wrong.

We’ve all heard the term “moral relativism.” What moral relativism means in practice is that there are no such things as moral absolutes. Something is right or wrong because any one person feels it should be, without recourse to outside standards of morality or natural law.

A huge segment of our population has been struggling ever since they reached the age of reason to reconcile a personal disgust with the idea of abortion, with the loudly trumpeted demands that we all must recognize that it’s NONE OF OUR BUSINESS and we’d better just pipe down. Choice. My body. Reproductive freedom. It’s not really a baby. All of it has been shouted in the streets until two generations now honestly can’t tell right from wrong or good from evil.


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