THE CHALLENGE OF SELF CONQUEST

THE CHALLENGE OF SELF CONQUEST

Many of us are familiar with the story about the elderly Cherokee who tells his grandson a story about the inner conflict of people. It is a powerful illustration of a truth about our human nature. It goes like this:

one evening, an elderly
Cherokee brave told his
grandson about a battle that                         Plato
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 that you feed"

 However, three hundred and seventy years before Christ Plato wrote about the same idea. In his dialogue Phaedreus he uses what is known as the chariot allegory to outline his idea of the human soul. He describes a charioteer driving a chariot pulled by two winged  horses. One horse is a noble breed and the other is just the opposite. One White horse is gentle and obedient to the command of the reins. The other black horse is wild, untamed and rebellious. The name of the first horse is reason and the name of the other is passion. The charioteer represents intellect, reason and the part of the soul that guides the soul to truth. One horse represents rational and moral impulse. The other represents irrational passions. Plato describes how some have difficulty controlling the black horse even with help from the white horse. It is the job of the charioteer to keep both horses under  control. Plato says he must guide these horses down a "heavenly journey" or path of enlightenment. If he can't do this it  will sink "him down and drag  him towards earth."

And, what about the Christian view? Here's what the great Apostle Paul says about struggling with doing the right thing in Romans 7:17:

"…For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.…"

The truth is that the human conflict between good and evil, as we perceive it, is part of our nature and has been the subject of discussion since recorded time. The gift of free will is that we have the power to make  choices. It is in the process of making choices this internal conflict is experienced. This struggle  to do the right thing and our choices create our character. That doesn't mean that people who make the wrong choice are less worthwhile human beings unless it becomes a pattern and habit of choice. For most of us, it is a  process of failing and picking ourselves up and trying again. It is the act of courage in continuing to strive to be a good person through our love and respect of others as well as our acknowledgement of God that makes us what we are. Stay strong and keep striving. We are all in this together. Our job is to carry our cross without bumping others and making it harder for them. 

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