Which wolf are you feeding?
By Tom Campbell
This is the supposed to be the season of peace on earth, good will toward mankind, but one is hard pressed to find much evidence of these qualities. At every turn we see war, unrest, depravation, distrust and incivility, leaving us individually and collectively to question what it will take for this to change. Perhaps two stories will give us clues.
A Cherokee legend tells of an old brave talking with his grandson about the battle and unrest that takes place inside us. Speaking the wisdom that comes from advanced age the Native American told the impressionable youngster that two wolves are present in each of us.
One wolf is evil and is exemplified by anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride and superiority. The other wolf is good and demonstrates joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
The young boy thought about this for a moment and asked his grandfather which wolf wins? The old Cherokee quietly and wisely responded “The one that you feed.”
Scott Peck, in his wonderful story of “The Rabbi’s Gift” provides a similar insight. Peck tells the story of a once great monastic order that over time had declined to only five old monks and was in danger of extinction. The abbott of this monastery, desperate to save and restore the viability of his order, sought the counsel of a wise rabbi, who commiserated that the spirit had gone out of his faith also. They wept together and as they parted the rabbi apologized for not having advice or solutions. But he concluded by telling the abbot he was sure that the Messiah was one of them.
One of them? The monks pondered who among them might be the Messiah, speculating first on one, then another of their number. As they contemplated who that Messiah might be the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect, on the off chance that one amongst them might be the Messiah, and on the off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, each began to treat himself with extraordinary respect.
Soon people in neighboring areas took notice of the extraordinary respect that surrounded and radiated from the monks, finding a strangely attractive, even compelling desire to be in their presence. Word spread and soon people brought their families and friends to this special place and loving monks. The monastery began to thrive and once again became a place of rest, recreation, prayer and peace. All thanks to the rabbi’s gift.
The message of these stories is similar. If we feed the good wolf within us, if we treat ourselves and others with extraordinary respect we will find the peace, love and hope we desperately want.
The better, safer, happier world we crave won’t come about from more guns, superior strength, money or power. We will experience the world we want only when individuals demonstrate friendship, humility, show mercy and charity toward one another.
The Cherokee brave and the rabbi recognize the secret to world peace begins with me and with you. If enough of us demonstrate those qualities we might just see them spread across this state, nation and world.
Which wolf are you feeding?
Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina state treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN, a weekly statewide TV discussion of NC issues airing in the Charlotte area Sundays on WCCB at 6:30 a.m.