“A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most.” ― George Bernard Shaw
You’ve probably been there, right? You’re in a position in life where you need to make a decision, usually a binary one, that can lead you down two paths. You know in your heart which is the right decision to make, and which one will lead you down some crazy path that you will come to regret. If you’re anything like me, you play a chess game of sorts in your head where look at all the possible moves, and then you determine which one will take you to where you want or need to go.
Then there are those times when none of the moves work out. You think of the options ahead every which way, and nothing makes sense. Or, rather, nothing works out the way you wish it could work out. This is either because you’re a goody-two-shoes and you can’t be evil enough to have things work out one way. Or you’re a villain and you can’t be good enough to have things work out the other way.
Chances are, if you’re reading this in 2016 and understanding it beyond a most basic level, then you’re a human. And, if you’re a human, you have within you a raging battle going on between good and evil about things big and small. Should you give back that extra change you got at the coffee shop? Can you declare a little more off that bag of clothes you donated? Should you take a peek at her goods?
You wouldn’t be much of a hero if you did. Just saying.
To think that you can be 100% good — or 100% evil — all the time is ridiculous. It goes against your programming as a fallible human being. We’re big bags of feelings and emotions designed by a mix of some weird code (combinations of ATCG, mostly) and thousands upon thousands of years of trial and error in our societies.
At the very end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what to do. In some instances, you’ll have plenty of time to think about all your options and act accordingly. In other instances, you’ll have to make the decision in a hurry. In either case, it takes a certain degree of maturity to be able to live with the consequences. Because there WILL be consequences to everything you do.
The known universe is set up for action-reaction and cause-and-effect. There are shadows when there is light, and we wouldn’t know what light is without darkness. You know? All the philosophical parts of the Good Books.
You gotta admit, though, that there is something to be said about all these conflicts. It’s what moves us forward. Conflict is what motivates us to get up in the morning and solve the problems that cause those conflicts. Our conflict with disease brings cures. Our conflict with ourselves makes us look for ways to be better. Our conflict with each other… Well…
In this life, human life, there are things that we weigh as good and things that weigh us down, so we deem those bad. Some of us are attracted to doing good and living in the light. Others are enamored by the darkness. Thing is, both sides need each other to exist, to make life interesting, and to grow from conflict. Whether you walk in the light or hide in the shadows, you’ll find yourself on the other side from time to time. Just make sure you’re grown-up enough to live with the consequences.
“One day, you’re gonna have to make a choice. You have decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. … Whoever that man is, good character or bad, is gonna change the world.” – Jonathan Kent
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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