The 5 life lessons of a toreador

I see Gandhi, Mandela and Oscar Schindler as the greatest toreadors in living memory.

toreador-and-bull
Bull and toreador.

They floored the truly biggest bulls, and just as a toreador would do.

3 people, who did what no 50 million Facebook Warriors could ever dream to achieve. For being more talented than others. In the 5 tactics of the toreador; which are actually the ground rules of any warfare and defense (or marketer or dictator for that matter).

I always say that when you want to abolish the bullfight, you have to learn from the toreador. Standing with a viking hat at the entrance of a cattle fair, is not going anywhere. If only because people already instantly find you prejudiced for never having seen you at a supermarket, restaurant or slaughter house. Then again, in any profession and situation and battle, you can learn from the toreador. 

1. Know thy enemy

Personally I’ve known of 2 people to be killed by a bull.
2 people who did absolutely nothing, but being within reach of a bull. And not 4 neighbours were able to distract the animal (you don’t go through life with a cloak
at hand). And both were people who grew up on farms, so they were already more alert than others.

There’s a certain type of Alpha Bull and Alpha Cow that have in their passports: “Nobody can move on my territory, and my territory is everywhere where I am. I will not stop until it no longer moves. Come hell, come high water, come exhaustion or come death, this will not stand”.

Compared to that animal, the lion is a wuss.
The “Toro Bravo”, or Brave Bull, will take on a force majeure, will not back off, not walk away with the tail between the legs, not become submissive. He Will Rule. With all his 500+ kgs. He runs faster than you, and turns on faster. Describing such a majestic force as an innocent, little animal, is stripping it away of its first raison d’etre, even of a higher form of love: respect, understanding. 

And, by the way, I’ve also known people as bulls. In both the good and the bad sense. A psychopathic stalker was the greatest lesson of my life. After 3 years of it, I was mentally and physically drained, lost everything because of it, because my mistakes were: I moved, … and I had showed fear. I had not recognized the signals: I had not known my enemy (after such a long training, I now spot a bully within a matter of seconds).

Nelson Mandela learned Afrikaans, and knew (and loved) parts of its culture.
Oscar Schindler spoke the language of Nazism.

If you don’t know and respect your enemy, you’re fooling yourself: you are not in the running for a win.

2.  Smile

And that bullfighter with his smirk, having fun…

Few realise just how much training, anxiety sessions, fitness training, perseverance, character,  fear suppression, was needed before the possibility to organise that smile. Up to a point that it seems effortless.

For that smile is taking the impression of “not moving” further: You see, I’m innocent, I’m harmless, you can put your guard down (so I can better take you by surprise, while I also work myself up to a higher state of self control and balance).

Poor farmers of the past. Having to become athletes, as if they didn’t already have enough on their plate.

Once you force a smile upon yourself, there will be a point that you internalize it. Ending in the real, melancholic yet brave smile, that indicates: “I am ready to face the faith of my choices and character”.

“You can wish me dead, me I have already seen that moment a thousand times, and will face it. I lived my nature, character and choices. A shepherd dog needs to shepherd, I needed to do this”.

I always say that come a war, I don’t want a 1000 Facebook warriors, or 5 paratroopers around me. I want 1 Israeli and 1 toreador friend. In dangerous situations these come closest to Spartans, and in peace time closest to being deeply alive.

Minute 2:20 to 3:30: I call that “The Gandhi Technique”.
And the Schindlers’ Test, too. Many are called, only a few are cool-blooded enough. You could also have said that Schindler was sitting there smiling with a cognac, while Jews were being killed. “What a horrible man, sitting there smiling“! Yeah, well, he saved a 1000 lives; not the protester standing at a concentration camp holding up up a sign saying: “I’m against this”.

So:
Keep still, blend in, act within enemies as though you are a tree, or one of the cattle, as guarantuee for safety and tribes not turning against you.
Smile, to display a higher level of harmlessness and innocence, so you distract more information, and can test the waters one step at a time.

You can see 2 sides in the scene above: cruel guys with a drink in their hands, having ‘entertainment’. Or guys dying inside and being the reason that the “toro bravo” has not gone extinct, and this particular one is not going straight to the meat industry.

Not saying that one opinion is more correct than the other one. Saying that in order to survive, or live to the fullest, you need 2 eyes.

3. Have your cloak ready

It is possible that life, unbeknownst to you, has already provided you with a very long training in your personal cloak.
Maybe you are as the very first farmer being attacked by a bull, and having the epiphany to pick up a cloth.
Or maybe you have none.

If you have one, you take very much care with it. It’s one that nobody knows about. You use it very scarcely, treat it as the gold it is. For which ever enemy you try to keep at bay, bully, psychopath, or the mob, it is but a matter of time before they know to be fooled – and then they will no longer run around elegant you, but over you. Your cloak protects you but 15 minutes, use it well.

After 52 years in this life, I know that most people have developed such a cloak; but that most just don’t know what it is; they’ll have to browse through their whole life again, in order to find what it is they have been most trained in. More often than not, humans are fully mistaken in what they perceive to be their talent.

4. Be fair

The bullfighter who is not fair, will be divorced, expelled out of his village, and his or her name will live on in infamy. When you notice the situation to become out of balance, you stop and give the opponent time to recover, help the opponent to release blood pressure, provide the element that the opponent feels well with (horses); yes, even when you know it’s 500 kg versus 60, help the opponent to not just die but to have lived, according to his or her nature.

No battle was ever really won without respect. You might smile, but nobody else who was watching, will join you. Nobody nowhere likes to see a fight between a chicken and a lion. The music will stop.

Sure, the Fairness Argument is very debatable, everywhere, in every situation; the more asymmetric the war, the more impossible to define. Fighting a bull is like fighting an extra-terrestrial; we can study for a life-time or 3000 years for that matter, we will never know.

We can safely say that, overall, eating meat is the most unfair fight of them all; the animal has not even lived, and forget about how was intended by nature, felt death coming and was unable to defend itself, died without any respect, for nothing but the entertainment of the taste buds.
Though people can be in this loop of self-sustaining prejudices, especially in situations where colonial bias is inevitable, the saying about “speck and beam” has never become obsolete.
Now I’m a vegetarian, though will not attack or shame someone else; the idea that it’s ONLY an opinion, and me ONLY a 3-pound brain, ONLY another human with an ego, is strong enough to never turn me into a I-Have-The-Thought-Monopoly Nazi.

At any rate, we live in a new society in which everything is to be thought “entertainment”. More and more, experiences are reduced to that one single word. “Bulls are killed for entertainment”. That last phrase says far more about the speaker, then about anyone else. Everything is superficial. Probably this speaker will also say: “Was the procession fun”? “Was the Mosque useful”? “Did you have a good laugh at yoga”?
O tempora, o mores. So disconnected from nature, duende or any religious, mystical, emotional experience. So be it. This makes this fight a-symmetric too.

5. Know Thyself

Rule Nr 1 in just about everything.
Know your talents and weaknesses, in any fight.

If you do not, all your efforts as to “fighting against the bullfight” might as well be actually helping it.

Know your own prejudices, wrong doings, cruel sides, noble sides, … if you are right in your conclusions about yourself, then you are an unbeatable person.

NOTE: I am as little PRO-Corrida as I am ANTI. I sit on the fence, forever looking at both sides. This is a river, in which I do not pick sides, for none of them own the truth. In order to cross it, I need to know, love and respect the whole river.

I find the person who loves animals, as noble as the bullfighter.
But ONLY when they are fair, not-hypocritical, and know what they are talking about.

How beautiful the life, in which you try to see all angles.  

You arrived in it in one dimension, and leave it in 3D.

That’s winning a war.

Ben

Heart, Head, and Balls:

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