Monday, December 5, 2011

If it's legal it's OK, right?

I was traveling in Tanzania recently. We were at a small regional airport when we saw a couple of tourists led by a hunting guide. They were followed by a porter with several elephant tusks on a cart. There are licensed, private, game reserves there where hunting these beautiful animals is permitted. I was shocked that the Tanzanian government could allow this. But how can one of the poorest countries in the world turn down the money? From the preserve owner’s perspective there is nothing wrong because it is all perfectly legal.

Our obligations to ourselves, our communities, our fellow human beings and the planet, extend beyond law. Acting with good character often requires that we look more deeply and at our actions. We must seek to avoid any harm and hopefully do some good in the world.

These majestic creatures are endangered. The international ban on ivory trade has not prevented elephants from being killed for their tusks.  Killing them only serves greed and ego. Intelligent creatures who may be 70 years old are still being slaughtered. This is not in good character on the part of anyone involved.

Global poverty can be addressed so that these senseless killings can stop. The wealthy West must take a lead in that. Sharing wealth and using limited resources fairly is the only way it can work.  Acting with good character means thinking beyond ourselves. It means working towards a better world. We can create a brighter future for every being living on this planet.

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