The death of Cecil, a well known lion who lived on a protected reservation as part of a research project in Zimbabwe, was hard enough to come to terms with. It took about a week of me seeing posts about it in my Facebook feed before I could bring myself to look into it further. Then when the killer was identified as a trophy-hunting dentist from Minnesota, it was even harder to deal with the fact that Cecil will so needlessly killed by an American. As rage poured out from around the world, it was clear that Cecil’s killing struck a very deep chord in many people.
But then as others began comparing their causes to Cecil’s, as if to minimize what happened to him, my feelings became a jumble. Of course these other causes were important, but so was this case, which represented far more than just one lion but the entire relationship of humans with animals and the environment. To sort out my feelings, I wrote a Facebook note called “Comparing Causes,” which several of my friends began sharing and told me deserved a wider audience.
One of my friends had a particularly good suggestion: Submit it to The Dodo, an online publication about animals where writers and bloggers could submit their work. I took her advice and posted it. Then the next day I emailed the editors to ask if they would be willing to feature it — and they did! This was quite an honor because only a very few pieces are selected to be featured on The Dodo, and usually those are by big names in the animal welfare profession.
On August 3, my piece — under the new and more click-worthy headline “Let’s Just Stop Using Cecil To Talk About Abortion” ran next to pieces by Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free, and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. The piece makes the points that all efforts to increase the welfare of humans, animals and the environment are important, that they are all related, that not every person has to participate in every cause, and that no one is perfect at even their own causes.
The Dodo posted the piece on their Facebook page, where it got over 1000 shares, and their Twitter feed, where it got about 100 retweets, favorites, and responses. It also got 46 comments on the piece itself, most of them favorable but some not. I was happy to see all of them. This is my first foray into online publishing, and if I get this inspired by something in the future, I may just write something else.