What wolf feeds inside you?

Image: George Becker


We are always building ourselves, having as a basic option either the goodness and inclusion of the other or the malignity and exclusion

Traditional Catholic theology has always affirmed that the human being is “simul iustus et peccator”, “is simultaneously righteous and sinful” or in more conventional language, he simultaneously has within himself the dimension of goodness and the dimension of evil. Nobody is totally bad, nor totally good. If it were totally evil, there would be no redeeming it, only recreating it. Redemption rescues that remnant of goodness that remains within the evil person and thus is allowed to recover his share of goodness and his humanity.

He also affirms that no matter how good and holy someone is, he is never completely good and holy; there is always a shadow of imperfection or malignity that attends it. Therefore, we must all accept this human condition. She is not a breeding defect. But exactly, expression of our finitude and existential condition. We are always building ourselves, having as our basic option either kindness and inclusion of the other or malignity and exclusion. This is not a reductionist view of black or white, but a gradation of both, privileging one of them without being able to totally eliminate the other.

There are many variants of this complex reality that irremediably marks human beings. Sigmund Freud will say that we are possessed, at the same time, by the death drive (thanatos) which accounts for all that is dark and evil in us; or the pulse of life that means our bright and good side (Eros). Both coexist and he himself would not know how to guarantee who will finally be victorious, he only recognizes that they tensely coexist. Edgar Morin prefers the expression Homo sapiens e homo demens. We are bearers of intelligence and wisdom and at the same time of excess and dementia. Still others, like Carl Gustav Jung, use the expressions of light dimension and shadow dimension that inhabit us and with which we have to confront throughout our entire lives.

The fundamental option that we take, for one or the other, will mark the ethical quality of our life, aware that it will never be a purely clear option, but always accompanied by a dark one, in a permanent dispute for hegemony. What will predominate?

This theoretical grid is important for us to understand what is happening in Brazil and also in many parts of the world: there is a wave of hatred, discrimination of all kinds, symbolic violence with offensive words that our children should not even hear, real violence with the killing of students in schools, or of black and poor young people from our peripheries, of immigrants from various parts, fleeing war and hunger. There are wars in various places with great lethality, giving rise, in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war, NATO and the USA, to Russophobia, Sinophobia and, on the contrary, hatred of the secularized West that has lost reference to the transcendent and the sacred.

Worse, the dispute for a unipolar world (USA) or multipolar world (Russia, China, BRICS) can lead to a growing escalation to the point of using weapons that will liquidate humanity itself, according to the formula: 1+1=0, worth say, one nuclear superpower destroys the other and ends the human species. And there are enough madmen on both sides who aren't afraid to resort to a terminal expedient, particularly white supremacists and American neocons, who delusively believe themselves to be the bearers of "a manifest destiny" and to be God's new people on earth. . Something similar, with similar arguments, also occurs on the Russian side.

How are we going to survive this dramatic situation, never seen before in our global history? It is undeniable that we need to reinvent the human being, a renaissance that has non-material values ​​such as love, solidarity, art, music and spirituality, etc. It is in this context that the lesson of a Cherokee Indian sage came to mind. Hey there:

“A young man approached the wise old man of the Cherokee people and said: I suffered an injustice from another young man and I wouldn't know how to retort. And the wise old man, thought a little, and said to him: let me tell you a story. I also had hatred and contempt for someone who did me great injustice. And the worst thing is that this person didn't even have remorse for the harm he caused me. After suffering several injustices, I came to think that life was unfair to me”.

“However, after much reflection, I realized that the hatred affected me and not my offender. I came to the conclusion that hating is like taking poison myself, imagining that the other person would die of the poison.”

“Now I see things like this: inside me there are two wolves. A very good one, lives in harmony with other animals, does not offend anyone and is not offended. But if he needs to react, he does so in the right way, without letting himself be taken over by anger and hatred”.

“There is also another wolf. This one is always irritable, fights with everyone and even without reason offends others. Anger and hatred are stronger in him than his self-control. It is a senseless rage because it does not produce any change in you. It's still bad."

“My dear young man, it is not easy to live with these two wolves inside you, because they both want to dominate your spirit and your heart. So it is with every human being.”

′′ The young man, perplexed, asked the wise old man: who of the two wins in this inner struggle? The wise Cherokee elder smiled and said, "It's the one you feed."

Conclusion: humanity, you and each one of you will overcome the world of hatred, revenge and war if you feed the wolf of peace and harmony that is within everyone. Otherwise…

As Jesus of Nazareth would say: “Whoever can understand this message, understand it and put it into practice”. Otherwise you will know the desolation of the abomination.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of The search for the right measure (Vozes).

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