It may be that you have heard this story before; it is an old Cherokee legend. The Cherokee Nation today is made up of about 300,000 members that are divided into three recognized indigenous tribes in the United States. There are 567 Native American tribes in the USA today, and the Cherokees are the largest tribe. Anthropologists generally believe that the Cherokees have inhabited what is today America since prehistoric times, and probably originally lived in the Great Lakes region. The early European immigrants classified the Cherokees as one of “The Five Civilized Tribes” because they lived in permanent villages and were agrarian. In 1817 they became the first ethnic group to be granted American citizenship. That did not stop the federal government from forcibly removing most of them from their land. The Native Americans who were forced to leave their homes and march to the West, which the government designated as “Indian Territory”, called this journey “The Trail of Tears”. About 16,543 Cherokees were marched away after gold was discovered where they were living in the South, and approximately 2,000 – 8,000 died during the journey. But that is a story for another time; I mention it only to assure you that they are very familiar with feelings of discrimination, cruelty, frustration, harassment, depression, anger, resentment and general negativity. And that’s about all the negative words I can think of at this moment.
I want you to read a Cherokee legend about wolves. Many Native American groups have legends about wolves, and some even worshipped them. Probably all of them admired or at least respected wolves. But this ancient story especially suits today’s mood, both in the United States and Brazil, where negativity seems to be omnipresent.
It is a Cherokee legend about an elderly brave who tells his grandson about life.
“Son,” he says, “Within all of us there is a battle of two wolves. One is evil. He is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other wolf 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 of you, and inside every other person, too,” explained the wise Cherokee elder.
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.”
This is not too different from the Chinese Taoism concept of Yin and Yang in the sense that it teaches that we are made up of contradictory sides. Yin and Yang teaches that if you split the two halves, this upsets our equilibrium. The Cherokee legend teaches that we need to nourish our positive side, our good thoughts, even though the other is always present.
We are all aware that negative thoughts can create anxiety, a resentful attitude and poor health. We also know that negative thoughts decrease our energy levels, our self-confidence, and our friendships. That’s why we consciously try not to hate our noisy neighbor or our nosy workmate. But Americans and Brazilians (and certainly other populations in other countries) are feeding their evil wolves constantly in regard to patriotism, ethical beliefs, politic rhetoric, political decisions, and government policies. And all these things are out of the average citizen’s control. We used to merely comment on them, but nowadays have come to feed our evil wolf with these topics, and feeding them with great passion, anger and utter certainty that we are in the right, with little consideration to our personal health or the general health of our countries.
I, too, feel more negative thoughts about the current state of the two countries then I do positive ones, and remembering this legend is a good reminder to redirect my negative thoughts to positive ones. Feeding our evil wolves because of politics and politicians does nothing to change our countries but is changing our positivity as citizens, and as friends. If we feel that we are not being represented by the power of choice in our governments, we can at least choose which of our wolves to feed. We still have a lot of power over our attitudes and emotions.
NOTE: I sincerely thank my younger son, Daniel, for reminding me of this legend and for redirecting my recent negative outlook.
Fui aluna da Betsy há muitos anos atrás em uma escola de idiomas em BH e quando descobri que ela continuava dando aulas, entrei em contato e já agendei meu horário semanal. Até retornar a ser aluna da Betsy, não tinha muita motivação para ir a aulas de inglês, porém, atualmente, digo que estou indo para a minha terapia em inglês. A Betsy é uma pessoa divertidíssima, muito culta e interessada. Sua curiosidade me impressiona. As aulas com ela fluem, abordamos os mais variados assuntos e de uma maneira leve consigo aprimorar meus conhecimentos em inglês e aprender novos vocabulários. Pode acompanhar suas aulas e publicações online vai ser sensacional!
Aprender inglês com Betsy é um privilégio! Com aulas dinâmicas, inteligentes, divertidas, sempre tratando de assuntos atuais, consegue ensinar e cativar! Tenho aulas com ela há muitos anos! Não pretendo parar, pois além de aprender a língua, Betsy coloca assuntos muito interessantes em pauta. Nestes muitos anos, nunca repetiu uma só aula! Grande professora!
I have known Betsy for a long time, and in all these years I have learned so much from her… not just English, but from her vast experience as a teacher and as a person. Being an excellent teacher is not just about knowing your subject perfectly (which is of course the case since English is her first language) but also about loving to learn and to relate to people from all kinds of backgrounds and ages. I had as much fun in her classes as a nerdy Star Wars / Elvis teen fan as I do now as busy working grown up!
Betsy is a wonderful English teacher! Not only is she a native English speaker, but she is also “antenada” in what’s going on around the globe, enabling all kinds of subjects to be brought to light through very engaging and in-depth discussions, and providing a rich vocabulary, with words and expressions you don’t normally find in your usual English textbooks (and that are only ever mentioned on advanced English classes after years and years of going to the same English school). She is very open-minded and has a great sense of humor, making “convos” interesting and funny. And…Betsy loves cats – she is the best! Love, Carla & Amanda.