“One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil—it is anger, envy, jealously, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good—it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
“The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee replied, ‘The one you feed.’”
The foregoing was circulated around the internet and, unfortunately, I don’t know the original source. But I believe the principle is worth our consideration. Which wolf do you and I feed and what are the consequences?
With the help of a couple of young men, I was recently hauling hay. It was hot, hard work. I had contracted with the boys for an hourly wage. After a lunch break, I went by to pick up my young workers and found them somewhat disgruntled. Someone had told them that I was ripping them off. They were told that they should be getting paid “by the bale” rather than by the hour. When this individual confronted me, my first reaction was to feel anger. After all, what business was it of hers to interfere with my workers?
When I was about to give the woman a piece of my mind, the thought came to me that “I am the author of Mustard Seeds. I can’t allow myself to lose control,” and I didn’t in that instance. (However, my wife will attest to the fact that I have been known to say some unkind words to the goats when they don’t do as I expect them to.)
I held my tongue and simply suggested that I had a contract with the boys and if they were not satisfied with it, they were free to seek employment elsewhere. I would find other help that was willing to work within the limits of my budget. They opted to stay with me and we were able to finish the work.
Referring to the family, Brigham Young said that men “should maintain a uniform and even temper, both when at home and when abroad. They should not suffer reverses and unpleasant circumstances to sour their natures and render them fretful and unsocial at home, speaking words full of bitterness and biting acrimony to their wives and children, creating gloom and sorrow in their habitations, making themselves feared rather than beloved by their families.
“Anger,” he said, “should never be permitted to rise in our bosoms, and words suggested by angry feelings should never be permitted to pass our lips.”*
“Nowhere in the broadest sense should communication in the family be used to impose, command, or embarrass,” said Marvin J. Ashton. “One’s point or opinion usually is not as important as a healthy, continuing relationship. How important it is to know how to disagree with another’s point of view without being disagreeable.”
He went on to say, “A contentious spirit can affect almost any phase of our lives. An angry letter written in haste can haunt us—sometimes for years. A few ill-advised words spoken in haste can destroy a marriage or a personal friendship, or impede community progress.”*
George A. Smith said, “My opinion is that the use of the rod is very frequently the result of a want of understanding on the part of a spoiled parent…though of course the use of the rod in some cases might be necessary; but I have seen children abused when they ought not to have been, because King Solomon is believed to have made that remark, which, if he did, in nine cases out of ten referred to mental rather than physical correction.”*
“It is obvious,” said Gordon B. Hinckley, “that the great good and terrible evil in the world today are the sweet and bitter fruits of the rearing of yesterday’s children. As we train a new generation, so will the world be in a few years. If you are worried about the future, then look to the upbringing of your children.”*
So, the wolves fight on. It remains to be seen in my own case, which one, in the long haul, will win out in my heart and mind. I know which one I want to feed. But do I have what it takes to keep the Good wolf satisfied and the other at bay?
*CES Student Manual, Religion 302, Chapter 2