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Cecil’s Death Shows Why We All Need to Conquer Our Egos

Cecil’s Death Shows Why We All Need to Conquer Our Egos

Why do people kill magnificent animals, like lions, for fun?

The photographs printed in newspapers this week of Minnesota dentist, the Cecil the lion’s killer, Mr Palmer reveal an unmistakable look of pride, as he poses over the corpse of one dead beast after another.

Pride at what, exactly?

Hunters claim that the act of hunting is the thrill – the tracking of the animal, sneaking up close enough to shoot it without being detected and taking the successful shot.

This suggests that any of these elements is a genuine challenge, which is difficult to accept. What were the chances of Cecil not being shot once he had been spotted and the hunters had started to lure him out of the park with a trail of meat?

Hunting in these circumstances involves such heavily loaded odds in favour of the man or woman with the gun (or bow) that it’s difficult to describe it as sport.

Photographs of hunters posing over animal an carcass, as well as the beheading and skinning of the animal to create “trophies”, speak of the perpetrators’ need to portray themselves, and be seen, as greater than the magnificent beast they have just killed.

Presumably this is why hunters like Mr Palmer seek bigger and more magnificent animal carcasses to pose over.

“Look at me, aren’t I powerful?, is the message that these photographs and trophy-taking try to give off.

Such sentiments emanate within the mind from the ego, or as psychiatrist and author Dr Steve Peters describes it, our ‘inner chimp.’

This is the animal part of the mind that is concerned solely with self-preservation.  It is foused on finding mates and defending itself against perceived aggressors.

So it’s your inner chimp that can lead you to boast, or become aggressive and talk over people. It can also lead you to become jealous at other people’s success (which it perceives as an implicit threat to its own status).

It’s also your inner chimp that becomes defensive when someone disagrees with you in a meeting at work.

The inner chimp is the source of arrogance and tedious self-aggrandising.

It is also a source of our own stress and anxiety. Our inner chimps can be extremely twitchy at finding threats that don’t really exist.

We all have an inner chimp to manage, even if we don’t all feel the need to shoot lions to prove our ourselves.

Our impact on the world around us depends, in part, on our ability to find a harmonious relationship between the irrational chimp and the rational, human side of our minds.

We would all be better company and less stressed if we learned that self-promotion is often both unecessary and self-defeating and that disagreement with our opinions is not always an attack on our sense of identity.

Observing our thoughts , for example through meditation, and understanding which of those derive from the inner chimp, is a great place to start. It’s our ability to transcend and override the ego that sets us aside from creatures like Cecil. It’s just a shame Mr Palmer and his ilk choose not to.

 

Image copywright Photoexpert117, Fotalia

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Friday, 18 August 2017
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