A friend of mine just flew overseas for Christmas. Before she even stepped on the plane, the family dynamics of mama drama were already flaring up amongst her adult children. Who got to pick her up at the airport? Who had the privilege to have her stay first? Longest?
People often say that power corrupts and to this I disagree. Power does not corrupt a person, it merely exposes what lies in all our hearts, and simply gives it room, opportunity and permission, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.
I could hardly see over the large oak mantlepiece, the large clock chimed on the hour and among the photos of my great-grandfather and great-grandmother were more photos and trinkets of every kind. Everything seemed so much larger then, and so much higher. And yet when we revisit places when we are much older, those things we saw when we were young children seem so much smaller.
Have you noticed how uptight people get when someone or an organisation has an opinion published in the public arena asking questions about them that they don’t want discussed or exposed to the light of day regarding something to do with their behaviour?
A Native American story tells of a Cherokee grandfather speaking with his grandson: “Son, inside me are two wolves having a terrible fight. One is evil. He is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, charity, 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 old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” This story has great meaning for those of us on a spiritual path, open to the continual learning and growth for which we were created. It also speaks to parents and teachers, who have the power to shape the lives of children by the way we see them, speak to them, and treat them. For our own sake and that of our children, we need to realise that there is another version of the two wolves story, one that tells us to acknowledge both wolves. I believe we must have compassion for our human frailties, because to ignore our humanness or fight too hard against it merely increases its pressure to be in control. It will hide behind every corner waiting for a moment of weakness, to pounce, sink its teeth into us, and drag us down. So, if we are on a new health regime, choosing to eat healthy, and a longing overcomes us for that greasy burger (with cheese and chips) or that ice cream covered in chocolate sauce, ignoring it will force it to dominate our dreams. Best we indulge occasionally, using moderation as the tiller of our boat. In this way we can eat anything and still lose weight, as long as it is controlled and not gone wild from deprivation. Greed, one of the worst qualities of the evil wolf, begins early. I’ve noticed that when I give my young grandchildren a special treat, such as a lagoon cruise or dessert at a restaurant, they immediately ask when it will happen again. The key is not to blame their greed, or even to name it, but to focus on their gratitude. Telling them, “This was special, and you need to show your gratitude,” calls on the good wolf to take the lead. If I were to say, “Don’t be so greedy,” I would be giving too much attention and power to the bad wolf. Shaming disables inner strength. Naming a virtue empowers it. Even addicts, such as alcoholics, who find they must avoid drinking altogether in order to heal, need to have compassion for themselves. Guilt alone destroys the will to change. One reason it is terribly harmful to spoil and indulge children to expect treats and cheap toys every time they enter a shop is that you are feeding the worst kind of entitlement, teaching them: “If I whine enough, I get whatever I want.” That is feeding the greed, rather than making gifts a special experience to be savoured and enjoyed. I believe that this early learned behaviour leads to binge drinking, a scourge of greed in these islands; as well is infidelity – the pursuit of pleasure at the cost of faithfulness, love and loyalty, qualities of the good wolf that are harder to practice. Moderation, self-discipline, contentment, and gratitude are the soul food we need. Our health improves, our mood lifts, joy increases, and love thrives. We also need to have compassion for our self-pity, our weaknesses, even our greed, and decide if and when to feed it every now and then. I hope you will join the Rarotonga Baha’i community celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birthday, with an all-day “open house” on Sunday October 22, starting at 10am at the Baha’i Centre, with presentations by local Baha’is, children’s activities, a film at 4pm and kaikai. At 3pm I will present “My Baha’i Faith”, about my own faith journey. www.lindakavelinpopov.com
CI News contributor “Unionist” this week turns his attention to a social problem that sadly, has become a major issue in the Cook Islands – that of domestic violence. He says the statistics paint a grim picture of intergenerational abuse in this country.
His faced was emblazoned on our screens this week: Another young life caught up in bad decisions and now on the run from a bench warrant, pursued by the police and public till his capture I saw on social media this morning.