The average generally law abiding citizen of the United States goes through life with a considerably different experience of the world than most human beings through history. Technological innovation, incredible advances in science and engineering, and unprecedented economic prosperity have fundamentally altered the day-to-day existence of the “average” American to such a degree that even the elite of many societies of the past would marvel at the lifestyle we enjoy. We take it for granted that a $300.00 smart phone-linked watch from Samsung bought today is going to come with a higher resolution screen than you could get on the infotainment system of a $200,000.00 Bentley circa 2008 and will have more on-board computing power than the Apollo missions. The medical community is on the verge of being able to implant organs they create with highly advanced 3D printing technology and in the society that has been to the moon and sent satellites that allow us to gaze at the far reaches of space it doesn’t draw much notice. Just another day filled with technological wonders that even a hundred years ago were thought to be the exclusive privilege of God himself.
The advances of our society are magnificent, although sometimes I don’t think we fully understand the consequences these things bring to our lives. The smart phone is a brilliant thing with enormous benefit, but it’s only now several years after they’ve hit the scene that we’re starting to understand the potential downside to walking around with an electronic device that’s capable of tracking our movement, recording audio and video, and streaming our important data all over the place. The most significant unintended consequence of our civilization’s advancement in the long term might be allowing segments of it to completely disconnect from reality. We were provided with an excellent example of this in the furor surrounding Melissa Bachman’s* hunt of a lion in South Africa.
People who eat meat at every meal, wear leather products as fashion, and even upholster their cars and furniture in animal skins are losing their mind that a woman legally visited South Africa, obeyed all of their laws, and successfully hunted an animal that seems to have been bred specifically for hunting. People who celebrate the work of a pop star who seems to have amassed quite a record of sexually abusing children are foaming at the mouth about the supposed moral turpitude of hunting an animal. As I’ve stated before in this column, I’ve actually had the experience of watching someone blathering ridiculously about what sort of psychopathic monsters hunters are because they enjoy killing in between stuffing big hunks of beef into their mouth.
This is only possible in a society where most are completely insulated from the realities of the world. Only in a place where protein is cheap and abundant and presented in a sterile fashion completely devoid of blood will you see someone attempting to lecture others about the morality of hunting. That person didn’t exist in past societies because they’d either die of starvation or because the rest of the village would have beaten them to death just for being annoying. The real world looks like this:
Much of daily life for most of human history has been a struggle for protein. To survive, human beings require certain amino acids that our bodies do not produce on their own. A cow can eat grass and drink water and thanks to their anatomy they can generate all the nutrients they need to sustain life, including those amino acids we can’t produce. We cannot replicate this feat by eating grass…so we kill and eat the cow. Simple, really. Circle of life. You have to need protein pretty darn bad if you’re willing to try and bluff a pride of lions off of a kill long enough to steal some of it for yourself when you’re armed with some pointed sticks. Most who are bloviating about the immorality of hunting can do so only because they’ll never actually experience the kind of life-or-death need the guys taking meat from lions live with day to day.
The whiners also don’t seem to realize that legal, controlled hunting provides real benefit to the hunted species. In the United States a number of animals have been saved from extinction by the conservation work of hunters. Ducks Unlimited was founded by a bunch of duck hunters to help protect waterfowl populations which were decimated during the Dust Bowl. They worked to preserve and improve habitat, typically recruiting the assistance of local farmers in the effort rather than just attempting the big inefficient stick of government regulation. The National Wild Turkey Federation was founded for similar reasons, and their work with wildlife officials at the state level and land owners has helped preserve and increase wild turkey populations.
In fact, most wild life conservation that happens in the United States and much of the world is funded by hunting. Not just in the license fees paid by hunters, but also excise taxes levied on firearms, ammunition, and similar gear. In the Bachman controversy, even people who have professed hatred and loathing for the killing of big cats have been forced to admit that hunting and the revenue it brings in is necessary to fund habitat conservation, manage lion populations, and prevent poaching.
Meanwhile if you look at how most self-labeled animal “rights” or protection groups spend their money, you’ll see that the vast majority of it goes into lobbying and lawsuits, trying to pass laws and enact policies from the comfort of K street rather than being out in the field working with farmers to make practical, inexpensive modifications to their equipment to help keep ducks from being injured or killed when they are foraging. Nevertheless, people who say that Ms. Bachman should be killed (are you KIDDING ME?) for legally taking a lion bred specifically for hunting (which is totally different than the cow they ate which was bred specifically for food because…well…shutup.) will give money to organizations that accomplish nothing of value beyond paying lobbyists and euthanizing a whole bunch of animals.
You know that, right? That PETA kills more cute fuzzy animals than just about anyone else on earth? True story, bro.
…but, of course, all of that is reality. Actual fact. As such it’s not going to really enter the conversation with the latte-sipping crowd who has never gotten their hands dirty in the effort to sustain their own life.
That, really, is the downside of modern society. We have so much more than our ancestors that it’s entirely possible for people to unplug from the sometimes unpleasant realities of the world. They can get the necessities of life without actually having to work for them. They can enjoy fruit and vegetables without actually having to shovel any manure to fertilize crops. They can enjoy steak or bacon without ever having to lift a blade to gut and skin an animal they killed. They can obtain warmth without ever having had to swing an axe, drill a well, or push a coal cart. They can live in relative peace and safety without ever having had to shoulder a weapon to provide that security.
Instead of realizing this and being thankful like a normal well adjusted person would, some among us turn into entitled little ***CENSORED*** who spend all their time lecturing others about a world they’ve never actually experienced in any meaningful way. They’re reveling in the greatest luxury provided by modern society…stupidity. A chunk of the population has the luxury of being stupid on these matters because there are enough smart, dedicated people around doing necessary and important things to keep Darwin at bay.
You can’t be stupid and survive in a society where taking food from lions is necessary to eat…but, as this Bachman controversy shows, you can be dumber than a bag of hammers in western society without suffering any real penalty for it. At least in the short term.
The long term consequences of a sizeable chunk of the population disconnecting from reality and luxuriating in stupidity to levels of Corinthian excess probably aren’t favorable for preserving a society which can tolerate stupidity. Those posting pictures of lion cubs and calling someone a murderer for shooting a farmed lion might want to engage their brains for once and ponder the significance of that.
* Credit to Tam for the correction. And despite what some may say, no, she is not my long lost twin sister.