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The wolf of courage, the bleat of the sheep

I have not read the new book about Wayne Bennett, ‘The Wolf you feed!’ Certainly a catchy title and I suspect even the title will sell copies. The title is based upon the famous short story,

“An old grandfather was 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! The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, 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 grandfather simply replied, ‘The one you feed!”

I am so conscious in my life of the ‘feeding’ that goes on. ‘The one you feed?’ In other words the one / the thing you give time to. The one / the thing you prioritise. The one / the thing that is non-negotiable. The one / the thing that you give quality time and energy to. I have quoted before the words of the famous Jesuit priest, Fr Pedro Arupe sj. I will do so again here for it is all about ‘the one you feed!’

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

What you are in love with will decide what you read, how you spend your weekends, whom you know, whom you listen to, spend time with and more. This ‘feeding’ will be the stimuli, the food, which will nourish your spirit. It is your soul food. It is your inner, heart food. My wonderful mother Zena was a veracious reader. She read all sorts of things and this reading honed a sharp mind that constantly sought that which was true. She also loved the garden, meeting people and giving. My mother was a woman of deep and practical faith. Until her mid-eighties Mum was a daily Mass goer. Her time in nature, her prayer, her reading, her time with friends and family, all of these things fed Zena’s spirit.

One of Wayne Bennett’s often quoted sayings is, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything!” So true. All too often in our world the voice of reason, the voice of justice and the voice of compassion is drowned out by the bleat of the sheep. Some of those sheep wear the disguise of the ‘expert’. The ‘shock jock’ who loves throwing mud, who lives for the sound bites, whose moral compass is the opinion poll and whose version of truth is constantly changing to fit wherever the pervading winds of public bleat or public opinion blows. Sadly, in a world bereft of impartial analysis, critical thinking, logic and informed conscience these ‘experts’ become the shepherds of their flocks of bleating followers.

Our world has never needs true prophets as much as it does today. We are desperately in need of moral courage, of true statesmen and women who will, courageously and fearlessly call out bullshit for what it is and point to noble truth wherever it is to be found. But, given the nature of the prophet, this won’t be popular and it will, with 100% certainty, go against the pervading tide of bleating. But this is nothing new. The Old Testament is full of prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah, Malachi, Zephaniah, Hosea and more who were rejected, run out of town, labelled as traitor, ridiculed and killed because they had the courage to stand up against injustice. As I have quoted before, Archbishop Helda Camara once said, “If I feed the poor, they call me a saint, if I ask ‘why are the poor, poor?’ they call me a communist!”

For people of faith (whatever faith), it would be so easy to light candles, swing thuribles of incense, mumble and bleat rosaries and pay tithes, all smug with satisfaction and pennies to get you past the pearly gates while all the while ignoring (and not even seeing) the poor and the powerless, the distressed and the torn. Naming this and shaming this was exactly what got Jesus added to the list of prophets named above: rejected, run out of town, labelled and ridiculed and killed on the eve of the Sabbath.

For the sake of your children and your children’s children feed the wolf of courage within. Feed the kindness, the empathy, the generosity, the truth and the compassion and they will each in turn, produce joy and peace, hope, serenity and humility. Perhaps then by feeding that wolf there is a chance that the howling of the pack may drown out the bleating of the sheep!

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