I seem to find myself overwhelmed by the continual reporting of bad news, tragedies and the details and analyses over and over again that I have started to ignore much of it. As I contemplate the perpetual bombardment, somewhat surprisingly John Lennon’s song Imagine comes to mind, in particular this verse:
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
Can you imagine this? Is it hard to do? Or do you scoff and think that it’s just the vision of a crazy idealistic dreamer who was preoccupied with love and peace, spouting notions that are naïve and simplistic? There’s definitely a part of me that would like to see us all hold hands and sing peace songs with the hope that the power generated would overcome war, killing, greed, etc. Given the onslaught of depressing news these days, it takes a sort of blind innocence to even consider these possibilities.
As much as I love this song (as I do most of Lennon’s work) and the sentiments it expresses, there still resides in me a part that is quite cynical and at times despondent of our human nature. Though I choose not to dwell on these thoughts, I confess that there are times when these thoughts and feelings overtake me. To shake them off, I will play my guitar, go outside, or seek out my wife Jesseca for a hug and a few moments of solace and comfort that any of these can afford.
I’m reminded of a Cherokee Legend of which you may be familiar. Yet it is always worth recounting, particularly now. This version is closer to the original and is called “Grandfather Tells,” also known as “The Wolves Within.” It goes like this:
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”
He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.” The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?” The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
So which one will you feed?