A Cherokee Fable of Two Wolves: Good and Evil
Sometimes, the best life lessons that are passed from one generation to the next are short, simple, elegant, and breathtaking.
I found one such lesson on my Facebook timeline as a meme.
I want to share this fable with you:
An old Cherokee told his grandson, My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, jealously, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.
The boy thought about it, and asked, Grandfather, which wolf wins?
The old man quietly replied, The one you feed.
– Author unknown
Of course, the grandfather’s message is implicit: Feed the good wolf and starve the evil one.
While the grandfather’s lesson is deceptively simple, it is difficult to learn in its totality – that bad wolf resides within all of us, and he is hungry and greedy, always pushing, pushing, pushing...
Because we are constantly wanting something, whatever it may be (money, sex, power, possessions), sometimes these “wants” drive us to act in ways that we might not otherwise.
Sometimes, we just feed tidbits to Evil – not quite enough to spiral us out of control, but enough to chip at our souls, at our very goodness.
Ever since I can remember, I have had a weakness for stones and mineral specimens – collecting them is a passion – but sometimes I buy something that I shouldn’t, simply because it’s too expensive or something I already have. I often wonder if I owned just one important stone, carried with me at all times, I might be a happier person because then I could concentrate on that one possession and really get to know it.
Instead, I have rocks and specimens all over my house (among other “things”) – it’s like “stuff” has taken over my life because I have fed my passion for acquisition too much.
This passion doesn’t quite rise to the concept of pure Evil, but it could contribute to the possibility of it. For instance, what if my passion for stones would drive me to rob a bank or even kill someone to get money so that I can buy even more expensive rare stones and gems? Not likely, because I, personally, don’t seem to have that major bad wolf within me, just a nipping little yapper, although little yappers can grow into full-blown wolves. While collecting stones is a type of addiction, it is not a compelling one, such as, say, heroin or gambling addiction. I still have filters that stop me from feeding total Evil.
The wise grandfather understands that no one is totally without Evil – we all have dark impulses within us that go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. That succulent apple has been our nemesis ever since, for “free will” definitely has its downside.
But the grandfather wants his grandson to understand that the boy does have choices in life, that, in total, if he feeds the Good Wolf much more than he does the Evil Wolf, he will grow into being a good person, albeit not a perfect one.