I did not draw, or write, the above comic strip. It was done by ZenPencils.com, which has many other great little parables in comic form. This one in particular seared into my brain, as it is the best illustration I have ever seen about our two natures, and the choice we have. You see, we don't have a choice to BE one or the other, we are always both. The end of this comic nails the real choice at hand: which nature do we nurture?
Defining the Two Wolves
This comic strip describes the two wolves, but does not define them. I want to take it a step further and give these two wolves a name. The dark one is scarcity, the Soul of Violence, the belief that there is not enough so we must take from another. The white one is abundance, the Soul of Peace, that there is enough for everyone and we must give to all.
The Soul of Violence - We are born into this world afraid. We are afraid that we will die, we are afraid we will not have enough, we are not important to others, and we afraid we will be lonely. Because of this fear, we seek status over others, possessions beyond others, and distinction above others.
This is at the root of all prejudice, discrimination, and violence. We kill others because we fear they will take from us, so we take from them first. We do this actively in war, and passively in laws and economy. We do this to immigrants, the poor, and the foreign.
The Soul of Peace - When we are not afraid, we can feel a part of the heart which can see that there is enough for everyone. Any scarcity or desperation is caused by working against each other, instead of together. If a person is strong in heart, then they can see through a desperate situation and find misunderstanding which can be healed to bring hope.
This is the root of all progress in the world. Every time we abandon a prejudice, cross a boundary, or learn to see someone different than us as equal, the world improves just a little bit. We did this with learning to trade across nations, creating free public education, ending slavery, and ending segregation.
The Wolves Never Die, and Only a Fool Sees Himself In Control
A righteous person stumbles over their humanity, and a wicked person is restrained by theirs. The war does not end in this life. We make a thousand tiny decisions every day that add up for one side or another. Were we rude to someone "below" us today? Were we generous with our time for others? Did we judge someone harshly, or give them the benefit of the doubt?
Our responses to life, especially in the heat of the moment, do not come from our conscious mind but our conscious emotional reactions. You might want people to THINK you respect them, but when you are tired and in a heated moment everyone is going to find out how you really FEEL. These forces live in our hearts, not our heads. Whatever wolf we have been feeding will win the moment when the time comes.
How to Feed the Right Wolf
If you never examine your spirit, your heart, or your feeling toward others, then you can be pretty sure you are feeding the dark wolf. That wolf is fed by our fears, our lusts, and our insecurities. You don't have to try for those things to fester in your mind. Only someone who takes the time to examine themselves, and their thoughts, will ever feed the white wolf.
I love this analogy so much, because at its core is the reason why we pray, meditate, or read. All these actions are intentional ways for us to purposefully nurture our spirits. We are the wolf we feed, and only one of the wolves takes intentional effort to feed.
The Only Choice We Have
The Soul of Peace is foolishness to the world, while the Soul of Violence seems wise. After all, people can hurt you. Why not protect yourself? People can take too much and leave you to starve. Why not take from them? In the end, one who chooses peace seems to be a fool as they are leaving themselves vulnerable. And you know what? They are right.
Being a Christian means that when we are in a position of scarcity, we will choose to act like we are still in abundance. We choose to act like there is enough love, respect, and resources to go around. It is the example Jesus gave on the cross. That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Meditation Fodder (Feeding Time)
- Think of all the people you feel animosity toward. Do you ever take time to understand them? Are they still people like you, or have to made them into demons or villains in your mind?
- Do you ever try to see the best in those who you are in conflict with?
- When you think through all the ways others may hurt you, do you think about how to protect yourself? Do you think about how you can hurt them back? How much do you think about others negatively at all?
- Do you think about how you can show people around you they are important and valuable to you?
- Do you think about how others might be afraid of you?