Cecil the Lion (whom most of us had never heard about before Tuesday) died this week in Zimbabwe, killed by some jackass dentist. But while Facebook trending lists "Dentist Who Killed Cecil the Lion Apologizes!" and "Sign Petition: Justice for Cecil the Lion!" (in addition to #NationalCheesecakeDay, Grumpy Cat vs. Grumpy Dog, and Cara Delevingne), there are 21 to 36 million people in the world who are living in slavery.
Slave traffickers generate around $150 million of profit PER YEAR from selling people. 78% of these people do hard manual labor. 22% are sex slaves. 26% of today's slaves ARE CHILDREN.
Zimbabwe, where Cecil lived, is a huge part of the problem.
"Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation." - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009, GVNet
Zimbabwe has had a one party political system since 1980, and has had the same leader since 1987 (he is 91 years old). Their inflation is off the charts, and their country runs rampant with civil rights abuses and civil unrest.
"The government of President Robert Mugabe continues to violate human rights without regard to protections in the country’s new constitution. An expected legislative framework and new or amended laws to improve human rights in line with the constitution has yet to materialized. Police violate basic rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly, using old laws that are inconsistent with the new constitution. Activists and human rights defenders, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, face police harassment. There has been no progress toward securing justice for human rights abuses and past political violence, including violence after the 2008 election." - Human Rights Watch
I love animals and it sucks that Cecil the Lion was killed for absolutely no good reason. But I love people more, and there are millions of people that don't even have the basic rights most are offered here in the US--to be free--let alone to find a place to live, to eat, and to be able to go to a hospital.
Did you know that there are 795 MILLION PEOPLE in the world who do not have enough food? That is 1 out of every 9 people on the planet. Meanwhile, 783 million people don't have access to clean water, and 2.5 BILLION people don't have access to sanitation; 6 - 8 million people die every year as a result of these 100% preventable conditions.
Did you know that in the past year, the number of refugees in the world hit a record: 50 million people? That is the highest number since WWII. And how many of those people do you think have an income, access to clean water, and food? (Learn more by reading this article by former Rwandan refugee, Clemantine Wamariya.) 50% of these refugees are children, and a good portion of them are unaccompanied.
Did you know that the average global annual salary is only $1,225? If I make $40,000 per year, that puts me in the top 0.5% of wealthiest people in the world. You only need to make $34,000 to be in the global 1%. If we think the income gap is bad in the US, look at how much worse it is in the rest of the world.
These issues don't even begin to touch racism, gender discrimination, disease, health, corporate influence, freedom, climate change, and war, in addition to countless others.
The truth is, we are all just people. We have our own goals, we have our own problems, and we have our own lives. We can't fight for every cause. But rather than wasting our time gabbing on about Cecil the Lion (may he rest in peace), I think we should all agree that the guy who shot him was a jackass and move on. If the people who cared for Cecil want to launch a lawsuit, then by all means, they should do so.
In the meantime, maybe we should consider fighting for a cause that really makes a difference. Like freeing the 9,360,000 children who are still slaves.
So how can you help? I've compiled a list of resources for you to find a way to help fight against slavery, poverty, and homelessness.
But the number one thing you can do is to care.
- 4 ways you can help fight against Slavery: #1 is donate to poor children and help them get an education
- Help refugees by supporting the UN Refugee Agency (donations, volunteering, etc.)
- Combat homelessness by volunteering, donating, or building
- Fight against poverty by educating, donating, and volunteering