The Bling Buoy

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Matador

Written By: Misha - Aug• 07•12

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… which is a blessing in this case as this one left me speechless.

It is purportedly the image of Columbian Torero Alvaro Munera, who, in the middle of a bullfight, became suddenly and completely overwhelmed by the injustice and cruelty of his brutal actions in the bullfighting arena and from that moment, became a fervent anti-bullfighting campaigner.  The truth is that his epiphany came much later… and there is some debate as to whether or not it is Munera or another torero who features in the image.

Yet despite the disputes over the details, the power of the image remains.  Innately gentle beasts, the bulls used in bullfighting are conditioned, through extremely barbaric means, to appear aggressive and fierce.   This image shows one particular bull, tortured to the brink of death, who appears to approach his retreating persecutor with compassion, concern and humanity.  Virtues the matador has determinedly buried in order to perform his sickening crowd-pleasing duties.  Qualities that appear to have been unearthed by the very creature he can least afford to attach them to.  At least according to the ancient bullfighting mantra.

I have admitted on this blog before that I avoid conflict.  Detest it.  And yet sometimes it is unavoidable.  Sometimes we are provoked to the brink and we have no choice but to fight back.  Just like Munero’s bull.  And that’s why this image stopped me in my tracks.  Because it tells a story of a different kind strategic warfare.   The art of the peaceful warrior.

It’s not that the bull didn’t have an appreciation of the injustice and savagery metered out against him.  It’s not that he didn’t want it to stop with every ounce of his being.  It’s not that he was unable to match the brute determination of the matador.  It’s not even that he didn’t fight back.   Because he did fight back.

He just chose a different set of weapons.

And while the bull lost his life soon after this photograph was taken, in my mind he still won the battle.

“For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”  Sun Tzu

And that’s exactly what Munero’s bull did.  He subdued the enemy without fighting fire with fire.  Instead, drawing on a deep well of forgiveness, kindness and compassion to smother the flames of violence.  The bull was able to lead by example, not brute force.  And in doing so, was able to build his opponent “a golden bridge to retreat across” – Sun Tzu.

One photograph.

One courageous beast.

Grabbing humanity by the horns.

Inspiring one man to incite a stampede of support for animal rights.

And urging us all to cut the bull and find better ways to resolve conflict.

You can find out more about the campaign to end bullfighting by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) here.

On a lighter note, I am embroiled in a friendly battle of my own with a talented blogger named Sheri from Mommy Adventures, who is a co-finalist in the Groupon “Raider’s of the lost voucher” competition.  If you have the time to vote, I would be very grateful if you would click on the competition link here and write “I vote for Misha” in the comments. :)

Have you ever seen a photo/image that has completely changed the way you think about certain things?

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31 Comments

  1. Kim-Marie says:

    The photo just over me to tears. How gorgeous.

    Loved your octopus story. Seriously. Even if the other one wasn’t about poo! #ewwwww

  2. Bull fighting makes me feel ill. I can’t stand the cruelty. The photo is very interesting but I can’t help but think of what happened after. Rachel x

    • Misha says:

      Absolutely. He would have lost his life either way. In this case it wasn’t in vain though… this image has had and will continue to have a huge impact by increasing social pressure against this cruel sport, and acts of violence generally.

  3. Bachelormum says:

    It’s a very u settling and sickening image. It makes me hate the sport if that’s what u call it. It is simply way of man expressing his chauvinism but so cruel – build tall phallic skyscrapers, land on mars, race fast cars but please demonstrate empathy and human dignity. :-(

    • Misha says:

      I absolutely agree. It is shocking that bullfights are still happening in this day and age. The pressure of social campaigns to stop them are slowly having an effect though. Soon they will be banished to the archives of shameful history.

  4. Grace says:

    That photo certainly has an impact. And I agree, whether or not the photo is of Munera or someone else, it’s there portraying a very powerful message. Bullfighting is so upsetting to watch. I hope it won’t be long until it’s completely stopped.

    • Misha says:

      The majority of Spaniards and Columbians are now opposed to it. It’s the tourists who support it more and boycotting tour companies that promote it will see it banished forever. I thought this story showed how much we can learn from the animal kingdom in terms of not buying into gratuitous violence. That was the intention!

  5. Penny says:

    Another moving post Misha. You’re such a telented writer. You took me right there and I almost cried. Animal rights is, obviously, some thing I’m very passionate about. This post brought deeper meaning for me. I can’t really write about it here (one day I will write about it) but for now, thank you for taking me deeper.

    • Misha says:

      Thank you Penny. I had not meant to upset people with this post, although I now realise that was naive. We can learn so much from the animal kingdom and this story was a powerful example of that. Your work to raise awareness of animal rights is inspiring and makes such a difference.

  6. The photo is so sad but so very important. Bullfighting is such a shocking practice hopefully it won’t be to long until it will be completely banished.

    • Misha says:

      I agree Julie. Social pressure has reduced it to an event that is now mainly held to satisfy the curiosity of tourists, so the focus on awareness campaigns is now on countries outside of Spain and Columbia.

  7. Such an interesting twist for a blog post – thanks for taking us there :)

  8. Julie says:

    Powerful post Misha. I had never really thought about the cruel aspects of bull-fighting. I must confess my ignorance about it all. Thanks for sharing.

    • Misha says:

      Thanks Julie. I didn’t mean for it to be disturbing but I guess in retrospect, that aspect couldn’t be avoided. The message was meant to be one of hope and potential for alternative ways of dealing with violence. That was the intention.

  9. Amazing photo and a moving post Misha – you always have such a way with words.

  10. Lyndal says:

    that is such an excellent photo – truly amazing. Also an absolutely powerful post – i love the way you write

    #teamIBOT

  11. MsMandie says:

    Powerful, powerful image.

  12. kirri says:

    Is it ok if I say that I almost wish that I hadn’t read this post? I feel so sad….and perplexed.
    Definitely another powerful post Misha (and I voted for you in the competition).

    • Misha says:

      I once heard a speaker who stated that violence was an inherent part of conflict that would never change. At first I was disheartened, but then I realised I disagreed. This incident showed the positive, cascading effect of one animal responding in a different, compassionate and unexpected way to aggression. Maybe that was lost in the translation. I normally steer away from the more intense topics, but this was one I felt strongly about. I will return to normal programming soon! And thanks for voting for me. :)

  13. What an amazing post, thank you for sharing this with us. I have to admit, I do not know much of bull fighting and – worse – I’ve not thought much about it. I did not know the cruel extent of this ‘sport’. I had no idea the bulls were killed.
    Thank you for raising you voice and awareness.

    • Misha says:

      Thanks Becky. I don’t know why this story affected me so much but it did. And the fact it has lead to such a strong campaign against the “sport” is a positive thing. It is mostly tourists who attend the events now, so raising awareness in countries outside of where it is happening is important as it gives people the opportunity to boycott the tour companies that support it.

  14. BossyMummy says:

    I have never understood bull fighting. That photo, regardless of the context, is so poignant! Inspiring post :)

  15. Older Mum says:

    Wow, that was really moving, I sat staring at the picture for ages, it is also a very valuable story in how change is possible – beautifully written as always. Ps I want to add you to my blog roll, have wanted to for ages, but your rss feed does not seem to work!?

  16. Mumabulous says:

    Misha
    Thanks for this post. It made me think, something that is becoming increasingly rare nowadays. I’m not a religious person but your piece had overtones of the best bits of Christianity and Buddhism. It also reminded me of the opening lines of the novel Shantaram. Look forward to reading more of your very cool stuff. Luv Mumabulous

  17. Bull fighting is something I’ve never understood. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It!

    A very moving picture…

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