For 49 years, I have been taught many things by the men in my family. But, I have always respected the advice of my Uncle Robin Worley the most.
I have always been shocked at his fearlessness in the face of adversity and his ability to forgive others who had wronged him. I recently asked him if it is possible to learn this power.
I did not receive a preaching, lecture, or an arrogant answer. I received a story that originated within the Cherokee Nation many years ago.
The story features two characters: a grandfather and his grandson. The grandson is struggling. He is a good man. There is nothing that he would not do for the people he cares about. He clothed, fed, and cared for many of them when they were at the lowest points of their lives.
But, these tribesmen have short memories. When he was not needed for such things by the men he had been loyal to for years, their betrayal begins to form. Their motives are to take his property, power, and even his wife and children.
The good man who had helped so many of his people feels an ancient darkness enter his heart. Anger, hate, and revenge take a foothold. The inner conflict between good and evil is ripping the young man apart.
The grandfather is a wise elder who the young man trusts. As always, he seeks his advice on how to deal with evil. But, this time, the evil is within him. It does not plan on visiting. It is there to stay.
The grandfather provides a wise description of what is happening to his grandson.
“I have a fight going on in me,” the old man said. “It’s taking place between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
The grandfather looks at the grandson and continues, “The other wolf embodies positive emotions. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This is no fistfight. “Both wolves are fighting to the death. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person; including those who betrayed you.”
The angry, yet perplexed, grandson takes a moment to reflect on this. At last, he looks up at his grandfather and asks, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee gives a simple reply. “The one you feed.”
We do not know what the grandson did with this advice. But, it applies today just as it did hundreds of years ago.
Because we are human with emotions, the evil wolf is easier to feed. He fills us with negative passion and promises us strength and focus. Yet, this is a lie.
Feeding the good wolf is much more difficult. But, by doing so, we remove ourselves from negative things, people, and acts. This shows that we know that God is in control and will administer justice as He sees fit.
The story also serves as a powerful reminder of the fight that we all must face. Regardless of the type of person we are or what kind of life we lead, we will find ourselves battling two conflicting emotions at some point in life. Whether the fight is between anger and peace or resentment and compassion, it’s important to recognize the conflicting feelings inside of us and to feed the values and choices that matter most.
It might not seem like your upbeat neighbor, optimistic friend, or the person with a smile is going through a rough patch. But, the truth is that everyone struggles in some way. I have witnessed this struggle countless times in my law practice, my family, and in our general community.
One of the most crucial lessons hidden in the story of two wolves is the fact that we have more power over our well-being than we may think we do. When negative circumstances surface in life, even the strongest can give in to their hate and anger, especially when the circumstances are not what was expected. Whether we are facing a personal challenge, conflict in the workplace, or family problems, it can sometimes be too easy to become a slave to the evil wolf. This wolf will dictate our thoughts and emotions.
The good wolf will never enslave us. It isn’t the events themselves that have power over us. As the grandfather explained to his grandson, the way we choose to react to these events is what really matters. Just as in any battle, the well trained, well prepared, and well fed side will prevail. The starved, emotion based side will always be defeated.
This is not to say that we must allow evil to prevail by being blind to the evil in the world. It is just the opposite. By feeding the good wolf, we are much more capable of confronting, challenging, and defeating evil.
The “wolf” we decide to feed in our own life will prevail and ultimately determine the way we live every single day.
Which wolf will you feed today?