The news brought on mixed emotions. The Attorney General held a shocking press conference, stating, “I have agreed to, with the consent of our President and cabinet ministers, grant asylum for, and the return of, all of our citizens held in prisons in foreign lands. This government will accept the return of any citizen, regardless of whatever alleged crime they committed overseas, as it is our duty to return any one of our citizens to their native homeland. The terms of the prisoner release have been approved by foreign representatives, and the release will commence tomorrow at noon.”

There was a brief moment of silence in the press room. Only the clicking of cameras could be heard. Then there was an eruption of applause and cheers, and even the stoic Attorney General revealed a wide grin.

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The foreign captivity of our citizens has been a contentious issue for years. It mostly revolves around hunting, which is a national pastime here. Many go overseas to hunt, often illegally. Foreign governments have demanded that our citizens cease hunting in their countries, and have often arrested our citizens they have caught on suspicion of hunting. The domestic pressure at home is not if we should curb our hunting habits - we’ve been raised since childhood on how to hunt animals - but how we can return our nationals that have been arrested overseas. There are a few brave citizens that speak against hunting here, but it’s not so much of a social issue here anymore because we already killed off all our animals at home. That is why we have to go overseas to hunt.

I was still uneasy about the impending prisoner release. In a few short hours the country had been whipped into a nationalistic frenzy, the streets filled with people waiting for their fellow countrymen to return home. While I was excited to have my brothers return home after years in foreign jails, I was not totally comfortable with the fact that the government was willing to bring back anyone, regardless of whatever crime they have committed or were charged for.

My friend Mike is a cool-headed cynic, and I thought I could talk to him to get some perspective. I asked if he was comfortable having some of our country’s most notorious hunters return to our neighborhoods and streets, and reenter our society.

“Of course! They’ve been held in jails by foreign governments for acts only they consider crimes,” Mike answered. “Besides, there are no more animals left here for them to hunt, so what’s the worry?”.

Yet, I was still concerned. I was beginning to think there was something wrong with a society that only teaches one side of the issue. I couldn’t help but feel that we lost our self-control. I didn’t hear anyone ask if we should have all the hunters returned, even the ones that killed baby animals, or endangered species, for example. Hunting had become so pervasive in our society that people were only focused on the return of their countrymen, and not the acts they carried out.

Crowds started to gather in Aya Shaya Square, named after our countries first and most famous hunter who was killed while hunting several years ago just when it started to become a popular sport. A leopard has snuck up and mauled him. Some reports said his head was severed. His gruesome death and intrepid spirit, which took him hunting into uncharted territories, made him a national hero.

Our country has a great sense of irony and humor. Mocking the environmentalists overseas that jail our hunters, green flags were being handed out and waved by the crowd, while speakers were being set up on a stage in anticipation of the return of the hunters.

A young volunteer reached out to hand me a flag, but I hesitated. “Don’t you want a flag to greet our brothers upon their return home?,” he asked.

“I’m excited, don’t get me wrong, but do we know who all of these people are? What if they killed innocent animals? We could be welcoming some really terrible people back into our society,” I answered.

“Innocent animals? What are you talking about? They’re animals, what’s the difference? And having our brothers return home after languishing in jail is more important than whatever alleged “crimes” they committed overseas,” he retorted.

He thrust a flag in my hand and ran off to hand out the rest.

I stood there, looking at the stage, the flags, and the spectacle that was unfolding around me. I’m proud of my country, but I’m worried that we’ve lost our sense of justice to some form of extreme nationalism. I felt there is something terribly wrong with a society that welcomes with open arms some of the world’s most notorious hunters.

I don’t fear what may happen to the animals overseas in the future. After all, they’re just animals. I fear what the hunters may do at home, and what all this says about us.

For more from this author, visit The Big Ben Theory.

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