One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather “Which wolf wins? . . .” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The Nanticoke Indian Tribe Website

When a lawyer provides advice to a client, the result obtained will be a function of the advice given. When counsel places emphasis upon negative emotions, it is a mistake. Usually a result of impulse, there is little to commend this approach. The wolf that is fed will determine the tenor of the conversation.

When negative emotions prevail, the conversation ensues on a base level. I have come to observe that placed under enough stress, human beings can digress to their animal instincts and actions. The conversation takes place at too low a level for problems to be solved.

On the other hand, when an adverse party is treated with dignity, the level of the conversation is raised to a place where problems can be solved.

When faced with the challenges life presents, we have choices. In the context of the story identified here, I would always advise my client to feed the good wolf.


by Patrick Gaffney