Daughters and "Sons"
A few days ago I was talking to an old friend of mine on the phone and at the time he was in the car with his two daughters, who are both delightful and, from memory, 12 and 8 years old. On speaker-phone, my friend said that one of them had a question for me for her R.E. class and Scarlett piped up immediately -“Why is there evil in the world?”
No pressure there then! I quickly pinned the blame on the devil but they had also heard that there was evil in the world because people have bad traits in them, like greed and so on, and that it is these things that cause there to be evil in the world.
I explained that the two things go hand in hand – we are tempted to do bad things and those bad things can indeed spread evil in the world but it’s the devil doing the tempting. In the second of silence that followed, I think that all three of my listeners were weighing this up, so I quickly followed up by saying I knew a story that helped me to understand, if they’d like to hear it? They did indeed, so here’s what I told them:
Once upon a time there was a young native American boy about your age, and one day he got up very early and left his tent to go for a walk. He went up on a hill and looked around. As the sun rose he was amazed by everything he could see – all the wonder of the world around him. His old grandfather had seen him go and came up alongside him. “Grandfather,” said the boy, “what will life be like?” The old man put an arm on his shoulder and said “Son, a man’s life is like this. Inside him there are two great wolves – one is good, the other evil. And the two wolves are always fighting; they clutch and tear at each other in fierce combat until finally one of them wins.”
The boy looked at his granddad with wide eyes and asked fearfully, “Grandfather… which one wins?” The grandfather looked right at him and said, “The one you feed, my son. The one you feed”.
“Wo-ow!” came three voices over the phone line. “Yeah, good story, huh?” I agreed and quickly added - “The things we read, the things we look at, the things we say, the people we listen to… all of these things feed one wolf or the other.”
I was pleased the story hit the mark with them, and actually I believe it’s a really profound one. Personally, I think about it a lot. In truth, it had popped into my head just a few days before that call. I was in a shop that sells second hand DVD’s and there were two box-sets that appealed to me. One was season two of “The West Wing” (I am steadily building up the whole set having watched it all on loan for the first time last year). The other was the full seven-series box set of “Sons of Anarchy” of which I have previously caught on TV five of the seven series they made (the final two for some reason were not screened over here).
Both series are tremendously well written, with perfect casting and totally compelling storylines (plus some great music in the case of “Sons”). Both are, in essence, about a tightly-knit group of people who really look out for each other and try to do what they think is the right and honourable thing. However, there the comparisons end. You see, “The West Wing” is about the staff of (a very good) President of the USA, while “Sons of Anarchy” is about a motorcycle gang. The problem with “Sons” is that for all its compelling brilliance, it’s very dark and full of violence and bad language.
In the end I left “Sons” on the shelf and I promise you the reason is because this thought occurred: “It would be feeding the wrong wolf”. I picked up season two of “The West Wing” for the princely sum of £1. The full seven series of “Sons” would have cost rather more. But then again, I’ve found that feeding the wrong wolf always turns out to be more expensive.