America and Balkans, Worlds Apart

A few days ago I went to a rodeo, a sport in which modern-day cowboys showcase their skills. The thing that immediately caught my attention was the organization, the very thing that comes to mind to many people in the Balkans when someone mentions America and the West in general. For example, after a cowboy falls from the horse, two other cowboys on their horses soothe the excited horse and guide it towards the exit gate. The whole event is well organized, and everything runs immaculately.


As I was watching the rodeo, the thing that came to my mind was a similar bullfighting event in my home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, called “Kocicev Zbor.” I visited this event two years ago, and the thing that struck me as odd was that the bullfighting ring had only a modest wooden fence, which did not for a single moment provide any sense of security. If a bull decided to break free, he would have easily gone through the fence injuring anyone standing in his way. Furthermore, the audience sitting inside of the ring paid no attention to pleas from the sports commentator telling them to move. Then, in one moment, one of the bulls left and just as suddenly came back in the ring. The sports commentator, clearly baffled by this event, accentuated that this has not happened so far and that he was not sure whether the bull should be disqualified or not. The referee sitting next to him just laconically muttered: “Let them play.” Soon after this scene yet another bull left the ring and ran to the hills. Luckily no one got injured, not because of good organization, but simply because the bull decided to run to the hills instead of into spectators.

The best way one can see the difference between societies is not by juxtaposing boring statistics, but by making observations in everyday life. These two very similar events, deeply rooted in the traditions of the people in both countries, show a clear difference between the USA and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The rodeo organization is a good metaphor for the West with its clearly defined rules, each person having his or her duty, and everything running smoothly without any mistake. On the other hand “Kocicev Zbor” is an even a better metaphor for Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are only makeshift rules, which are not equal for the have-nots and for the haves, and citizens do not pay attention to orders even when the orders are for their own good – everyone seems perfectly unbothered with the whole situation. But to make matters even worse, despite all of that, Bosnia and Herzegovina seems to function by some inner logic, and unfortunately, it will be functioning this way as long as someone in Bosnia and Herzegovina does not take the bull by the horns.

Written by Aleksandar Krecar, 2018-2019 Global UGRAD student from Bosnia and Herzegovina at Kansas State University