There’s been a lot of hype about an ape lately – Gary or Terrence, no Harambe the Gorilla. Last week the agitated400+ pound male gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo got hold of a toddler who had breeched all the safeties and fallen into the gorilla enclosure – dragging the little one through a channel of water by his limbs. It’s an extraordinarily frightening video, watching the ape pausing, dragging, pausing, and in between the screaming fits of the little boy his mother can be clearly heard saying from the gallery “Mama’s here baby, mama’s here!” The zoo shot the animal to save the life of the toddler, realizing very quickly that doing anything but would likely have resulted in the death of the child. And many like me watching the spectacle online, sensing the extreme danger and unpredictability of the situation, audibly sighed in relief.
Predictably, the internets went ape-sh*t – everyone with a computer self-righteously claiming that not only would they have done better in that situation, but also calling for those involved (mostly the toddler and his parents) to be killed for their stupidity. Because the poor, sweet-hearted, harmless, 450-pound, male, silverback gorilla should not have died – he was just trying to be friends with the little boy and have fun and play cards or something. (So now everyone with a computer is a zoologist specializing in primate behaviours?) And if the toddler and his parents can’t be shot dead, they should be fined, maimed, investigated, thrown in jail, flogged, drawn, quartered, tarred, feathered, all of it, at the same time. Because “how could anyone be so stupid as to procreate – AND THEN be even stupider to lose hold of the child’s hand for a minute at a zoo? Nobody could be that stupid, and certainly not ME. This would NEVER have happened to me”, they say.
And just like that we’re back in ancient Rome and Caligula’s playing the “hungry lions and yummy Christians” game in the coliseum – except instead of gathering in the stands of the Colleseum to watch and cheer on the bloodshed, we gather in the chat rooms and com-boxes and gleefully unload our wrath on the vulnerable of our society. “Kill all the people”, comes the battle cry, “there’s billions more where they came from.” Except for me of course. I matter. I count. But they don’t. Dirty Christians/toddlers/procreators. You name him, he should die. Because that’s all we have to offer in this here culture – not mercy or compassion – only condemnation and ultimately death.
Over and over again we hear the story – people sitting in the comfort of their own homes, at their computers, demanding the death of others. Amanda Todd, a teenager who was sexually exploited and then bullied because of it, both in person and over social media, was taunted by her classmates, told to do the world a favour and kill herself. And she is not the only one. There have been a rash of teenage suicides linked to a similar kind of abuse. It’s not hard, especially for an angst-filled teenager, to be convinced to believe that life is worthless, that I am a mistake, a bother, a drag on society and all my friends and family and really start to believe that the world would be better off without me. And those without any grounding in the Lord – who is the one and only sovereign of life and death – have just about nothing to stand on to refute these heavy “charges” (and even those who do can have a hard time).
And what about all the different slaughters and genocides that have happened in our world in the last couple of years? How many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of innocents have been brutally murdered at the hands of others – and the outcry comes when one gorilla is shot in a zoo in Cincinnati? I read that this incident received 54 times more media coverage than a mass shooting that happened in Chicago the same week, killing 69 people.
Satan’s finest moments, these are.
And it’s here – in situations like Harambe or like Cecil the Lion who was killed by a dentist (who incidentally received death threats for doing so) – where the insidious philosophy of the culture of death mentality comes to the fore, showing us all its malicious cards – spewing lies, hatred and death like the mouth of Sauron. We can tolerably cover up the slaughter of the innocence in the womb or the elderly by the sanitized language of medicine – “it’s not a baby, it’s a fetus” or “we’re not killing that old person, we’re assisting them in their wish to end their life with dignity.” But when it comes to killing an animal for the sake of a human being, the advocates and the religious followers of the Culture of Death go crazy – they can’t help themselves! THAT boy’s life was not worth the life of an endangered gorilla.
A deeply and dangerously problematic philosophy, really. When we accept that some lives are worth living and some are not, no life is sacred, no life is safe, not yours, not anyone’s! Until one day, only those strong, healthy, virile, androgynous individuals between 20 and 30 years old with blonde hair and blue eyes, living a carbon-zero lifestyle, eating only organic, local, windswept fruits and vegetables will be the only lives found worthy of living. But really, I’m sure a wart or a blemish will be found on each one of the people falling into that category, and so – sigh – they must die too. If you think you are safe, just wait a few minutes. “They” will find you too – and when you least expect it.
Despite the issues I have with this whole incident, I have to admit that I was saddened to hear that the gorilla had to be shot and killed. I’m sure it will go down in history as one of the zoo’s most traumatic moments. The lives of animals do matter, but never, ever over and above the lives of people. PEOPLE. Human beings infused by God with souls. Animals that bite, maim or attack people should be put down, regardless of whether the attacks were accidental. This is the proper order of things, and important for the preservation of our species and the safety of our children. Yes it is sad and in this case, traumatic to all involved, but it has to be this way. Sure we can talk about whether we in North America should hold large, dangerous animals in pens and cages to be gawked at by passers-by, or whether trophy hunting is appropriate. We can debate whether or not zoos should exist at all, or whether killer whales and white tigers should be taught to do funny tricks and death-defying performances for a live audience. But there can be no debate on the issue of human life. Life is always sacred, all the time. Period. Any other philosophy on the subject is disastrous.
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