Golden rule, schmolden rule. It comes down to this: In absolutely every situation, love ought to rule. If you have a decision to make, choose the more loving path. If you have something to say, let it be said lovingly and with love as its sole content. If you have the chance to intersect your life with the life of another, whether person or animal, let that intersection be of, with and about love.

I didn’t say it would be easy.

Unless you live under a rock, you know about Cecil the lion, who was lured out of his protected territory and shot by an American dentist (whose name I will withhold, though it’s all over the news), so the magnificent beast’s skin and head could adorn the surfaces of said dentist’s Minnesota home. This wasn’t a case of hunting for necessity, for food. It was acquisition at the cost of a life. It was a bad, bad thing.

The man who committed this act is certainly feeling its effects. Social media will do that. He has shut down his practice, issued an apology, and is generally lying low. He has received both death threats and vituperative scrutiny of his manhood. I understand these reactions; I felt them, too. Social media provides an outlet for rock-throwing unheard of since Biblical times. I admit it; I tossed my pebble with everybody else.

I am glad that I grew up before social media became a thing. Nowadays, any foolish thing anybody does is promptly recorded and preserved for all time. It never goes away. I would not want to be judged on the single, stupidest thing I ever did. No one would. But people are, every single day, on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.

I am not excusing the gentleman in question. What he did was reprehensible. But who am I to throw stones? If love is really the law, why are people’s lives devastated because the public decides to play vigilante? The woman taken in adultery was owed her stoning, by ancient Hebrew law. But Jesus said no. Jesus made it clear that, whether the mob in question is on line or in the angry, vengeful flesh, only God can be the final arbiter of guilt or innocence. Only s/he who is without sin may cast the first stone.

I believe in karma, and to some extent, the justice system. But I believe most fervently in God. In the end, it is up to God to judge us, whether our crime is catfishing or lion-killing. Online or off, God sees us, sees our deeds, knows our hearts. What this hunter did will catch up to him. In the meantime, we should follow the rule of love and put our stones back into our pockets. We may certainly condemn his actions. But we must not condemn his person. Not if love is the law.

 * With apologies and deep gratitude to The Suburbs, whose song by the same title has been a fave of mine for more than 30 years.
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