Stop Feeding Your Fear

European grey wolfA colleague of mine recently opened a sermon with a Native American parable:

ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES ON INSIDE PEOPLE.

HE SAID “MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO ‘WOLVES’ INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER, FEAR,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY, LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.

THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE LOVE, HOPE SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
EMPATHY, GENEROSITY,
TRUTH, COMPASSION AND FAITH.”

THE GRANDSON THOUGH ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
HIS GRANDFATHER:

“WHICH WOLF WINS?…”

THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
“THE ONE THAT YOU FEED”

As early contenders for the Presidency of the United States jockey for position and for their parties’ nominations, some of those candidates seem to believe that their best chance lies in feeding the evil wolf.  Their rhetoric is aimed at pressing on people’s worst fears and instincts, on prejudices and biases that lurk within.   This constant feeding of the wolf of the ego is an extraordinarily dangerous game to be playing.  It risks blinding people to goodness, giving those in whom the ego wolf is strong a perceived license to do violence against those people and groups who are targeted by this rhetoric.

As Christians, we are specifically told not to do this.  “‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.”  (Matthew 5:21-22)    In this teaching, Jesus is rightly pointing out the danger that feeding our anger (which is closely related to fear) holds for us.  Murder and all manner of other violence comes forth from us when we insist on feeding the wolf of anger and fear.   Jesus clearly points out the spiritual danger of allowing ourselves to go down this path, and tells us not to do this.

True leadership is not about playing on people’s fears and working them up into a frenzy of anger.  True leadership is about helping to calm people in the face of fear, about leading people away from anger and toward compassion.

There are those who would lead us down a dangerous, dangerous path.  We must refuse to go down that path, for the sake of our own spiritual health and for the sake of our nation.  Stop feeding the wolf of anger and fear, and start feeding the wolf of empathy, compassion, and generosity.

 

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