This blog post was first published on Online Opinion.
One evening an old Cherokee 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.” (Two Wolves, anon)
The Internet seems integral to human progress, as it equalises voices and helps to educate and inform us all. However, both the worst and the best of humanity is highlighted there. ”Not only does the Web allow easy – and often unwanted – access to sexual images (in terms of numbers of websites and views, porn is king of the Web), it offers a social-feedback loop that is heavy on appearance and superficiality, and low on values that scholars say might undermine sexualisation, such as intelligence and compassion.” (The Christian Science Monitor)
Last week on Insight (SBS), Jenny Brockie hosted a discussion titled Generation XXX – is online access to porn harming kids? Intelligence and compassion were shown in big doses by the young people and educators on Insight as they tried to grapple with revulsion, horror, admissions of hypnotic addiction to sensuality, the perception that there is a place for pornography, and the stories of the brutal loss of innocence in young people before they have reached sufficient maturity or have experienced a gentle blossoming of first love.
A couple of the brave young men spoke about its hypnotic power over them and the images that they just couldn’t erase from their thoughts. Most young people felt that self-worth and goodness had been ‘stolen’ from them. It was clear that getting the subject out in the open was beginning a healing process …. an ‘awakening’ from a mesmeric influence akin to the psychological and physiological effects of watching a horror film.
Another field experiencing a huge increase in online traffic is the search for health information. Whether it’s aps on smart phones or Dr Google, “DIY health” has been named as the second biggest trend of 2012 by Trendwatching.com, thanks to a surge in fitness apps, record spending in the category and an incoming wave of health gadgets that track your every move and vital sign.
So, searching for information about health and diseases and tracking your every vital sign can only be useful and an intelligent thing to do, right? Not so much …..
I had to LOL with the team on The Project recently when Kitty Flanagan caricatured us going to the internet for health information and coming away assured we had a life-threatening disease … or two …. or three!
Theologian and health writer, Mary Baker Eddy, observed how the media spreads fear about health in the early 20th Century:
”The press unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought…. A minutely described disease costs many a man his earthly days of comfort.”
It was also good advice from Mark Twain who wrote during the same period, “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint!”
Today’s health research into placebos and nocebos bears out the truth of these premises, and points to the fears that arise. Dr Herbert Benson proposes that ongoing health anxiety has “… severe physical repercussions.” And Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at the New York University Medical School, elaborates that fear of disease makes us ”…more prone to heart disease, cancer and stroke, our greatest killers.”
I’ve found that interest in disease, like pornography, mesmerises us into believing we are merely physical organisms, and that everything experienced through the senses is all there is to reality. However, we inherently know that’s not the case.
Encouraging news is now coming out of studies into the effects of our thoughts and spirituality on our health. Dr Craig Hassad has discovered via recent medical studies that “Spirituality is an important determinant of physical, emotional and social health …” (Australian Family Physician, Hassad, 2008).
Thinking about a persistent cough I was experiencing a couple of weeks ago, I questioned had I become mesmerised by the constant advertisements in the media that included commentary on the inevitability of colds and coughs, descriptions of symptoms, and bold statements on the efficacy of drugs and medication? Wow, there really had been a barrage of hypnotic suggestions!
I’ve found that a spiritual approach to health care works, so I started to think about the cold in a different way and from a spiritual perspective ….. by claiming my identity as expressing the divine, which includes health and wellbeing as explained in Christian Science. This prayer took some persistence, but the next day there was no evidence of a cough or cold at all.
A young guy also found a spiritual approach helpful to healing a chronic addiction to pornography.
It’s worth considering that the more we focus on disease, pornography, or ugliness of any description, the more we are impressed with it and experience it in our lives. Some of the young people on Insight discovered that they were no longer conned by the fake attraction (or repulsion) to pornography, when they woke up to the truth about it and focussed on a better reality.
Just as in that thought-provoking Cherokee story, it seems likely that if we ‘feed’ the good in us with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith, more good and healing will occur day-to-day.
Which ‘wolf’ will you feed and will win in your thoughts and interactions today?