Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Which Wolf are You going to Feed?

The story is told of a boy who is angry and upset, and goes to his Native American grandfather for advice. The grandfather tells him, “I have two wolves inside my heart. One of them is kind and understanding. He lives in harmony and peace. The other wolf is vengeful and cruel. He rages, but his anger changes nothing. The two wolves fight inside me to see which is more powerful.”

The boy asks his grandfather which wolf will win the fight in his heart. The grandfather responds, “The one I feed.”

I read that the life span of any emotion is 1½ minutes. After that, we need to give it more energy to keep it going. We need to feed it. (This gives “nursing a grudge” a whole new meaning.) We can choose.

Pema Chodron tells a story from The Search for a Nonviolent Future by Michael Nagler, about a Jewish couple, Michael and Julie Weisser, who lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. They began to get threatening phone calls from the Ku Klux Klan. The caller would threaten to kill them, destroy their property, and harm their friends.

The Weissers eventually figured out that the caller was Larry Trapp, the Grand Dragon of the Klan in that town. They knew that Larry was in a wheelchair and had a hard time getting around. During one hateful phone call, Michael spontaneously offered to give Larry a ride to the grocery store. Silence on the other end. Then Larry thanked them. They began to call him to offer whatever kind of help he needed. They brought him a home-cooked dinner. Finally, one day Larry took off his Nazi ring and severed his connection to the Klan.

The Weissers understood that behind every act of cruelty, there is always fear. They understood that Larry was calling for love. And they chose to feed the wolf of forgiveness and compassion.

People do and say mean things for the same reasons we do–out of hurt and fear. Being honest with ourselves is the first step towards changing our habits. When we feel a strong emotion based on fear–hatred, anger, vengeance–we can remind ourselves that it will pass quickly if we don’t revive it. We can pause and choose wisely which wolf to feed.

1 comment:

  1. Dear true. Geeze, it's been so long since we've seen each other in person. Sure do miss yeeeew! Really enjoy your Blog. xoxoxoxoxox L


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