Feeding the Wrong Wolf

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953

I am not a pacifist. If I am under attack, I will fight back. If my country is attacked, I believe that we, as a nation, must defend our homeland. That being said, I believe that war is a last resort, almost always a mistake and ultimately a wasteful and ineffective way to solve the issues that divide us.

That is why President Eisenhower, by no stretch of the imagination a pacifist, found himself questioning the wisdom of our country or any country wasting precious resources on weapons of war when we could be spending those resources on growing crops, developing medicines, purchasing school books and making our world a more peaceful place to raise our families.

War is a kind of madness. We equip our youth with sophisticated weaponry and send them abroad to kill and destroy young men and women from a distant country. In the process civilians die, the innocent suffer, children are orphaned. Ultimately, someone declares a victory but there are no real winners, only different kinds of victims. Waging war diminishes victor and vanquished alike.

There is a story told about an old Cherokee grandpa who is teaching his grandson about life. He says, "A fight is going on inside me and you and every other person. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, guilt, resentment and self-pity. The other is good. He is joy, peace, love, kindness, generosity and empathy." The young boy thought for a minute then said to his grandpa, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

It seems to me that when we go to war, we are feeding the wrong wolf. And in doing so, we are destroying the goodness within each of us. We are not bringing peace to the world but fostering hatred. We are not feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. We are killing not only our own soldiers but also the lives of innocent civilians. More importantly, we are starving the good wolf within ourselves, the wolf that wants peace for ourselves and our children.

The March 14th. issue of Time Magazine has a cover story about the number of people (over one billion) who are living in extreme poverty in our world today. According to a United Nation's report entitled "Children Under Threat", more than half of the world's children suffer "extreme poverty." That means families that live on less than a dollar a day, families that don't have safe drinking water or enough food to ward off starvation. It means children die because of sickness that could be prevented.

This year we will be spending approximately 500 billion dollars to support our military operations and 16 billion in aid to those who live in extreme poverty throughout the world. Where have we gone wrong?

This is not a Democrat vs Republican thing or blue vs red. Letting children starve to death in a world of plenty transcends all that. It's time we revisited President Eisenhower's words and paid attention to the truth that he utters.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."