by Lucas Molandes
Growing up in the U.S has given me two tools that have proven useful in my adulthood: 1.) The ability to frown on cultures I don’t understand; and 2.) a healthy thirst for pointless violence in the news. So when I read about how children as young as five-years-old were becoming bullfighters (toreros) in Mexico, I was as horrified as I was intrigued. How could anyone, no matter the cultural significance, condone putting children in a position where they might be injured, gored, or worse? Even if these Mexican children are willing participants, why let them risk the rest of their life for something as fleeting as fame and fortune?
(Will fans still gush over you when you’re gushing from an arterial puncture wound?)
But then I remembered a very important lesson from another child who faced dangers and survived to become a strong, noble hero. I’m of course talking about the boy who lived, Harry Potter. He stood up to “he who shall not be named” and lived to tell the story. He didn’t listen to those who told him he was too young to fight back, and the world is a better place. And because of that, I agree wholeheartedly that children in Mexico should be allowed to face their enemies in a battle to the death. Hell, maybe children in the U.S. could learn something from the children in Mexico.
Since child labor has become shunned in the United States, we’ve seen the steady decline in our children’s toughness. Generations ago, kids were gun-toting, tobacco-spitting badasses who could tame an angry steed just as they could tame any number of local saloon prostitutes. They would wake up with the roosters, chop down trees with their fists, and wash down their freshly killed dinner with a tin cup full of homemade moonshine. They’d skin you alive if you stared at them cock-eyed.
These days, the closest our children get to being badass heroes is when they swish around in Harry Potter Halloween costumes, chanting witchcraft spells at the kids dressed in Glee outfits. I’m not saying that we should make them go back to sweatshops or work as chimney sweeps (though maybe if I had had a job like that at a young age, I would have understood the value of pursuing an education). I’m just saying that Mexican children cry when a bull gores them while our U.S. born kids cry when they get their texting privileges revoked. There’s something wrong with that.
This holiday season, before you give your kids their undeserved presents, make them get the firewood, or sweep out the garage, or teach them to tame a lion. By forcing them into a situation where their lives are at stake, they’ll realize the greatest gift of all is the gift of living. No amount of Furbies or Playstations will ever mean more than that.