“Son, we eat the antelope…”
And thus begins Mufasa’s soliloquy to Simba on the nature of life in the African Savannah, and why it’s okay to eat animals that worship the ground you walk on, because you’re the Lion King…or something like that. It’s been a while since I watched it, although the fact that the soundtrack has been recently discovered by the children and is now on high rotation (or, more accurately, the only thing they want to listen to) in the car has made me think about it again. It makes me think a lot, on my drives to the supermarket or to after-school lessons, or anywhere really, about why Americans still cast English actors as villains all the time, and why Mufasa obviously grew up in an American school on the African Savannah, whereas his younger brother Scar seems to have gone to an English boarding school (maybe that explains why he’s so peeved). I didn’t know there were English boarding schools in the African Savannah. Perhaps he was forced to move to England. Hmmmm. Now I’m imagining a sulky cartoon lion skulking around the halls of Eton College. Any English people noticed any cartoon characters moping around recently? Watch out, they’ll be dangerous. As is, apparently, anyone with a British accent in the US. They’re a villain, you can tell by the voice. Best to get rid of them now before…
NOW HANG ON A MINUTE!
No, just wait up for a bit, okay? This brings me back to the thing that the Lion King makes me think about, and that is why it’s okay to eat the antelope when they worship the ground you walk on, just because you’re the King. I’m not a vegetarian (and the fact that I’m bad with nuts and dairy means I’m not going to turn vegetarian any time soon), but…I don’t like killing things. I don’t like killing animals, and I certainly don’t agree with the idea (which idiot suggested it?!! Oh, that was me) that Americans should get rid of all people with British accents because they’ll probably be villains. Sometimes people think I have a British accent – even other Australians. I’m about to go to the US, where it’s apparently likely that every second person will mistake me for a Brit. I’ll just have to make extra sure I don’t go out with a black outline around me so nobody thinks I’m a cartoon character (aaaaaand back to the point).
The point is this: I believe we all have a right to life, that life is sacred, precious, valuable. I do believe that life was given to us by our Creator, and that we are blessed to have it, and we need to respect it. We can’t restore life, or create it, and therefore we should treat the taking of life with some gravity.
And here’s the only problem I have with this: I eat animals. Every night. For dinner. I don’t like stomping on spiders (although I do if they invade my territory), and I hate to see animals mistreated, although I do squash ants and put the cat in front of any mouse that dare enter my kitchen. I represent the paradox of modern living and thought.*
So this is my point: sometimes what we believe doesn’t line up with our actions, and vice versa. Often we believe stuff just because we always have, and often we do stuff just because we always have. It’s so easy to forget that we’re grown-ups now, and we can spring-clean our minds from all kinds of fears and beliefs and judgements and yellowed pictures sticky-taped on the walls of our minds.
And it’s okay. Like I said, much as I value the sanctity of life I’m still in no hurry to become a vegetarian. I am, however, working on a few other, more personal examples of the paradox. You know, stuff more along the lines of “that person has a British accent and is therefore a villain”. Dumb stuff. Stuff that’s stuck. Sometimes you know it’s just time for a change.
Know what I mean? Ever found yourself believing stuff, or prejudiced about people because of a once-upon-a-time? I’m ripping a few old pictures off the mental walls. Care to join me?
*I eat cheese mites too. So do you if you eat cheese (although possibly not plastic cheese, and most definitely not that weird American squeezy stuff). Oh I’m mad at the person who first told me about cheese mites! Grrrrr.