Yesterday a friend asked me if I wanted to go to the bullfights on Sunday and I had to decline, much to my disappointment, because it looks like I just may have to forego a visit to the bullring during San Isidro season this year.
Though not a major enthusiast of the custom, I do appreciate bullfighting, know a thing or two about it, and enjoy a good bullfight from time to time. I fully realize that this means I am condoning slaying an innocent animal as a form of paid entertainment. I do. But that is just one of the mysteries of this world.
Nonetheless, I have to admit there is something naturally unusual in this day and age about a friend asking, “Hey, Brian, would like to go watch six bulls get stabbed to death?”; it’s Something that doesn’t quite jive with the general thinking of today. And yet, bullfighting continues to lure endless numbers of tourists from all over the planet and visions of life.
This comes and doesn’t come as a surprise. There is so much legend and lore shrouding this tradition that people are inevitably drawn to it. There’s also a lot of morbid instinct influencing too. I can’t tell you how many times I have had conversations with people who are clearly defenders of many of the current universal causes – human rights, civil rights, respect for global diversity, save-thises and save-thats, and then out of the blue I heard, “So, my wife and I have bought tickets for the bullfight this afternoon. What do you think?”
“What do I think? I think you’re in for a big shock.” I mean, what would they be expecting? A tag football version of ritual slaughter? No, folks, this is the real thing. You go and will witness how half a dozen animals are rather slowly executed. There will be blood, sometimes plenty of it. And the animal will at times also display unquestionable signs of suffering. “If this is what you are willing to take, then by all means, be my guest. But don’t expect some kind of clever editing that will spare you of the gory details. It’s all there happening before your very eyes and that’s that. There are no two ways around it.”
Invariably, most people return wishing they had not gone in the first place. No, kidding. Still, if you are willing to accept it, then you can move on to the next step of trying to find out just what it is all about. I’ll get to that at a different time.