The real tragedy in Zimbabwe

Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2015

For the last week or so, all eyes have been on Zimbabwe.

Much of the world is appalled.

The sheer horror has stirred thousands of people to action — at least if a post on Facebook or Twitter constitutes action.

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Many are concerned.

Count me among them.

However, it’s not Cecil the Lion’s death that has me outraged.

In case you have been living in a cave without access to 4G service, Cecil, who was apparently well-known and loved in the natural park where he lived in Zimbabwe, was allegedly lured out from the park he lived in, shot and killed. The American dentist that shot the lion is now in hiding. He’s received threats and even had to shut his business down. All of this because of the death of a lion.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating lion hunting.

While I do consider myself a hunter, although admittedly not a very good one, I have no desire to shoot a lion.

I’m also not going to weep over Cecil’s death; not given the plight of the people who call Zimbabwe home.

We are right to be outraged about what’s happening in Zimbabwe, but let’s be outraged because it’s one of the most difficult places in the world for a person to survive.

In 2012, the U.N. Development Program ranked countries on a Human Development Index. Basically the organization looked at whether or not people had the chance to live long, healthy lives. It examined whether or not they had access to knowledge or could achieve a decent standard of living?

The short answer is no.

Of 187 counties and territories, Zimbabwe ranked No. 172.

People generally live to the ripe old age of 52.

In the U.S., we consider that to be about middle age.

Due to widespread AIDS, there are more than half a million orphans. That’s roughly the number of people that live in Jefferson County and more than twice the number of people that live in Birmingham.

Nearly 15 million people call Zimbabwe home. Of those nearly 15 million people, 1.7 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 have AIDS.

The economy is also virtually non-existent.

If you’ve got 5 U.S. dollars, you can exchange it for 175 quadrillion Zimbabwe dollars. Let that sink in.

Now maybe it makes a just a little more sense why big game hunting is such a big business in Zimbabwe. The dentist that killed Cecil reportedly paid $50,000 of cold, hard U.S. cash for that hunt.

Whether or not big game hunting can be justified is another debate for another day.

Like it or not, it has certainly made the world aware of Zimbabwe. The tragedy in my opinion is that even with all the attention the country is receiving of late, none of it will help a single human being struggling to survive just one more day.

The passion that Cecil has stirred up is admirable. However, has anyone considered that it might be just be misdirected?

Think of the difference we could make if we were as appalled about the conditions these people live in, as we are the death of this lion.