A group of Cherokee children gathered around their Grandfather, filled with excitement and curiosity. That day there had been a tumultuous conflict between two adults and their grandfather was called upon to mediate. The children were eager to hear what their Grandfather had to say about it.
One of the children asked a question that puzzled him, “Grandfather, why do people fight?”
“Well,” the Grandfather replied, “we all have two wolves inside us, you see. They live in our chest.
These two wolves are constantly fighting each other.” By this time, the children’s eyes had grown as big and bright as the moon.
“In our chests too, grandfather?” asked a second child.
“And in your chest too?” asked a third.
The child who asked the initial question couldn’t handle the tension any longer. “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee Grandfather explained, – One wolf is dark and evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other wolf is light and good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
“If you feed them right, they both win. You see, if I only choose to feed the light wolf, the dark wolf will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and always fighting the light wolf. But if I acknowledge him, he is happy and the light wolf is happy and we all win. For the dark wolf has many qualities – tenacity, courage, fearlessness, strong-willed and great strategic thinking – that I have need of at times and that the light wolf lacks. But the light wolf has compassion, caring, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all.
“You see, the light wolf needs the dark wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they will become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something greater, something good, something of life. Feed them both and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. And when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of deeper knowing that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance. Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing. “How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both.”