I’ve been watching the political race for the US Presidency unfold, and I’ve been thinking about some of the topics that have dominated US news for the past few months and I’m struggling to understand why we as a nation, as a species even, cannot seem to agree on certain issues that seem to me to be very plain and not controversial at all.
For instance, let’s take the popular topic of the hour: Cecil the Lion and the backlash against trophy hunting. I can’t see anyone making a reasonable, rational argument to support killing endangered or nearly endangered species. Setting aside the discussion about shooting deer as a supposed method to thin the population to prevent starvation in the winter months when food is scarce, (that’s probably another topic altogether), hunting for sport is cruel and serves no purpose. As Ricky Gervais said recently:
“It annoys me that it’s called ‘trophy hunting’ because it has nothing to do with hunting. There’s a big difference with, you know, hunting for food cleanly and honestly, as we said before, and wanting to know what it’s like to murder a majestic animal for no reason other than the thrill of what it’s like to murder something… Why is bullfighting fun? Why is torturing an animal the fun bit? It’s not fun to do, it’s not fun to watch. I wonder about the psychology of the people that like seeing an animal in fear or tortured or its life snuffed out for no good reason.”
Isn’t this something that we could all agree upon? Is banning trophy hunting really controversial?
What about legislation that helps to clean our environment? Whether you accept that climate change can and is being impacted by human activity or not, is there something inherently wrong with trying to clean our air, land and water? Is there a reason we should cling to outdated methods of energy production like burning fossil fuels when we have cleaner and more efficient ways of doing the same thing? Is the concept of recycling, reusing and repurposing so awful? Do we really want to continue to contaminate our planet with toxic levels of waste? Why would anyone, regardless of political affiliation, actively fight against programs or laws that are intended to provide a healthier environment for the planet? It makes no sense.
Gay marriage has been on the radar a lot lately. The only real opposition to this is religious intolerance and irrational fear of homosexuality. There is no legitimate, practical reason to deny two people who are in love the right to legally marry. Gay couples present no threat to anyone other than those close-minded individuals who will be forced to rethink their concept of a legal union. I don’t think forcing someone to reconsider their previously held position and adopting a more open and loving approach towards other human beings is a crime. Is setting aside prejudice and hatred a bad thing? Why are we not all of one mind on this?
A favorite topic in political arenas each election cycle is education. Every candidate, regardless of their party or political ideology promises to support education spending, yet (at least in America) education is nearly always one of the first areas to get hit with budget cuts. Why? If we pay lip service to how important we believe a strong educational system to be, why do our politicians continue to fail to provide proper tax funding for it? Should there not be a unified cry of anger when cuts are made? Should we not force our public servants to fulfill their promises and social duty to ensure the strongest educational system can be provided?
I realize there are many perspectives on many of the challenges we face and the only way to work through them is with critical thinking and rational discussion, but certainly not every topic should be divisive. Can we not find common ground on common sense issues? Can’t we set aside religious dogma, irrational fear, selfish motives, greed and shortsightedness to at least resolve things that shouldn’t really be issues in the first place? Surely a species that is intelligent enough to fly to the moon, create a global electronic network and split the atom can figure out a way to reasonably deal with situations like I’ve mentioned above without much friction. Or has “being right” become more important than “doing right”?