two wolves dalle

Which Wolf Do You Feed?

This note about “news junkies” comes from a longtime friend of Free-Range Kids, Donald Christensen. Donald is a draftsman living in Brisbane, Australia, where he thinks about the forces that change cultures and minds. This is one of his websites, as is this. I loved this note he sent. So here it is, slightly edited!!

I think that the 87 AD Roman Colosseum is alive and well today. The only difference is that the audience no longer has to sit on hard marble seats. They can now enjoy the comfort of their couch as they watch, say, an airplane crash, or a mass shooting, multiple times. It can resemble watching instant replays at a sporting event.

There are many reasons for watching the news. However, I believe that one of the more common is for the pleasure of infotainment. An in-depth soul search needs to be performed to find out if you’re one of these people. I admit that I was. It felt like the right thing to do.

That’s because humans are very skilled at bullshitting themselves, and we’ve each had a lifetime of practice. It’s all too easy to say, “I have to watch stuff like this so that I can, in some way, help prevent it. If I don’t watch, I’m guilty of turning a blind eye to atrocity. After all, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Somehow, there’s a belief that watching = action. The viewers pat themselves on the back for standing up against evil…while sitting in the living room.

But I have come to a different opinion. To explain it, I’ll use an analogy.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is 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.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s well known that a steady diet of fast food will affect your physical health. A “diet” of news, outrage, fear, hatred, and violence will affect your mental health and your ability to relax. It’s irrelevant if feeding this wolf is more entertaining than feeding the other one. The fact remains that feeding this wolf means feeding the belief that we are surrounded by evil and doom.

It’s no wonder America became so polarized and divided. Its citizens fed the wolf of distrust, hate, and fear and told themselves they we were just being good.

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