There is a legend from the Native American culture that speaks of the ‘Two Wolves’ inside each of us. In essence in almost all of the religions or cultures of the world there are similar teachings and stories. Each of us is born with the capacity to do ‘good’ or to do bad or evil. It is this inner struggle we all have, the struggle we have every day to do what is right or what is wrong and it is based on which of the wolves we feed. The difficulty in North American society in particular is for people to understand which of the wolves we are feeding.
‘No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks
A student where I work shared with me some of the teachings of her grandmother. She talked about how her ‘Grandmother’ told her that everyone is born equal and a person’s culture is not determined until we start living. The society we each live in combined with our ongoing inner struggle with the influences of human nature; temptation; affects our belief of what is good and what is evil. In the end the choices we make, the actions we do, decide who we become and how we feel about ourselves. Many of these actions are in conflict with who we as humans are meant to be as people resulting in us being unhappy despite at appearing we have everything that should make us happy.
In today’s society there is an over-emphasis on the valuing of commercialism to fulfill our desire to be beautiful, wealthy and independent. Believing this will make us happy. The belief that to be happy means to do the things that make you happy. Seeking to feed the one versus worrying about the good of the many. Media and advertising inundates us with images of what each of us should look like, should be. The more beautiful we are, the happier we will be. The bigger the car, the bigger the house, and the bigger the bank account will make us happy. This culture that is being created that values the needs of the one is not only unattainable for everyone but ignores the key values that throughout history, throughout the world have been the foundations to creating a happy person, a happy family and a happy society.
Growing-up at times our family had little money. I still see my dad sitting at the kitchen table, making sure we all had food on our plates before he took his share. We were taught and modeled from a very young age the importance of sharing. If there were five potatoes and five people we each got one potato. Human nature at times had us each trying to get the slightly bigger potato but we would never think of taking two and leaving one person with nothing. New clothes usually just meant new to us. Don’t get me wrong we were not poor at least not in the way we have poverty today. We had a place to live and food, it may have been simple, but their was something to eat on the table every night. We grew up happy, not because we were rich or beautiful, but because we were fed those things that mattered.
During that time as well Canada’s policies were created to make sure everyone got health care and pension plans were established as well. The Canada Pension Plan even gave benefits to people who had never contributed, with the only requirement being was you were a certain age at the time of enactment you received the benefit. The majority of employers also had pension plans that they also contributed to, with the understanding if their workers are happy and working, earning a decent wage, then they could afford to be part of the economy and create a healthy and strong society. The rationale was simple because you were important, because we all were there to support each other. Canadian society was developed on certain core values and beliefs that drove policy in order to attain those ideals. The vision of what was a happy person was different from it is now. We are now creating policies that don’t have everyone supporting families. Education for instance no longer has to be supported by everyone. It no longer is a societal responsibility.
The rise and almost epidemic number of people with mental illness in North America is now being directly linked to the pressures of striving for more than we need in order to be happy. Feeding commercialism rather than society. Having a cell phone isn’t enough it must be the best cell phone. Making a profit isn’t enough, it has to be bigger even if it is at the expense of others, even if it means taking all the potatoes and leaving none for anyone else. The message that is becoming our new culture is happiness comes from the outside things rather than the inside. Your needs as an individual matter more than the needs of others.
The world has changed and I would never suggest that we go back to the way things were because at that time there was a need to address so many diversity issues, so many other issues of human rights, so many rights of the individual. The world needs balance, people need balance. Given where society is now and where it is headed we need policies that look at fairness for everyone. This is not about politics but doing those things based on what is happening around us and taking us back to the vision of the society we wanted to create. Fulfilling our vision as people, as a nation. We must take politics out of politics. A healthy society, a healthy person means identifying what it is we want our country, ourselves to be.
What is our vision for ourselves, for our community, for our country? We then do what is necessary to get us there. We feed the parts of us, the parts of our society that is going hungry.
We all must ask ourselves which part of the wolf we are feeding.