Column: Feeding the Wolves

By Brandon Ramsey

An old grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.  I too at times, have felt a great hatred for those who have taken so much, without 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 fight only 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 hatred 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 said, “The one I feed.”

This is a great fable about anger, which I use many times in my day to day job.  I even use it in my personal life, because it has so many great truths.  Anger and the longing for revenge are such powerful emotions, that sometimes it is hard to see around them.  If they are prevalent in your life, they will permeate your attitude and behavior. 

If anger is present in your life for long, it will change the relationships that you hold dearest.  That is one of the scariest things about anger.  It always attacks the things you hold dear.  The anger may have nothing to do with your relationship with your parent, spouse, or friend, but that is where it will do the most damage.  I’m sure that many of you have asked the same question I have on many occasions.  “Why did I say that to her?  It isn’t even about her.”  The crazy thing with anger is that it compounds itself.  Anger begets anger.  After saying that, I always find myself getting angry with myself about taking it out on someone else.  Now I am not just angry about the first incident, but stewing over the second also.

Learn from the grandfatherly advice when battling anger.  Throughout your life, fill your time and thoughts with positive things that feed the good wolf.  Be careful of the music you listen to, the television you watch, and the books you read.  They can all be very influential in your behavior.  One of the biggest ones we overlook is the friends we surround ourselves with.  Being a positive person takes planning and good judgment; we are not born that way.