Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Two Wolves

Some of you may have seen me write about my "bad wolf" in the past, but I can't remember the last time I actually shared the parable or teaching tale of the two wolves.

Home again after school a grandson tells of his anger at a schoolmate who has taken his lunch from him. His grandfather replies, "Sit down, my boy. I, too, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But, hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. I have struggled with these feelings many times.

"It is as if there are two wolves inside me: one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

"But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights with everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great.

"It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The grandfather solemnly replied, "The one I feed."
The reason I'm thinking about this story again is that there are a number of people out there in the "tubes" who seem to view the internet a great big all-you-can-eat buffet for their bad wolf. Booman wrote about this phenomenon in Don't Let the Paparazzi Get You Down. I haven't had much to say about it, beyond the occasional "mean people suck" (in the comments of the Booman post). I haven't been sure if there was anything helpful I could say. But I've watched as Maryscott checked in during the Rant of the Day or Open Thread at My Left Wing, reporting on the latest hideous thing that was being said about her on another blog. I've wanted to scream "Stop! Please stop doing this to yourself!" But I've refrained--first of all, because there are plenty of people already offering that service, and secondly, because I know it can't be easy to let people talk trash about you in public without trying to refute what they are saying.

So my plan was that I was just going to tune out that sort of vitriol as much as possible, and try to focus my energies in a positive direction. But then I saw the twisted delight some posters took in browbeating Maryscott for not responding perfectly to a suicide note that was posted by her friend on the front page of My Left Wing. But the point is that she did respond, and, together with some mutual friends, helped to save a man's life. And at this point I feel like I have to say *something*. So, here goes...

I will reconstruct this story to the best of my ability, piecing together the information I have gleaned from several diaries. A blogger who goes by the blog name beagleandtabby posted an essay entitled which began with the words "this is a suicide note", noting that he would be dead by the time anyone read his words.

He apparently posted it directly to the front page. Maryscott and others immediately setting about trying to contact beagleandtabby as well as emergency services. I can't imagine what it would be like check my blog one morning and see something like that. My best guess is that there would be a rush of emotions, panic, fear for the worst, but also feeling compelled to do something, anything to try to avert the outcome. Even though, for all I knew, the deed had already been done.

Speaking for myself, I know that I don't do very well when I'm in panic mode. I get physically clumsy and I find it hard to think clearly. I believe that Maryscott handled a difficult situation competently and compassionately. She took the alarming, heartwrenching post off the front page, but left it viewable in the community essays. But she changed the title so that people who knew the poster would recognize that the essay was indeed a cry for help (rather than philosophical musings about "life" in general, which one might plan to read "later".) She also posted at Daily Kos, because some of the people beagleandtabby mentioned by name in his letter were regulars there, and she wanted to get the necessary information to anyone who might possibly be able to help. This was a true crisis situation. Thankfully, Maryscott was eventually able to report:

I called his father. His father called the police for details.

The police had found him in time.

He is the hospital, alive.
That's the good news. The bad news, you can see by reading some of the updates Maryscott has added to her "He's alive" post, a number of posters from DKos have attacked her, calling her an "emotional vampire" for leaving the suicide note up, even though. But, as she goes on to explain,
IF I HAD NOT, I would not have got his last known address, which the police used to track him to where he was eventually found.

The police could do NOTHING with the cell phone numbers we had. IT WAS THE LAST KNOWN ADDRESS THAT SAVED HIM.
I saw the hateful comments that were posted at My Left Wing after Maryscott shared that her friend was indeed alive. Someone who had never posted at MLW before apparently signed up for an account for the express purpose of browbeating Maryscott over the way in which she responded to this crisis. I was livid. I planned to go to my computer and rate every single one of those comments as "Worthless Troll Douchebaggery", but the poster had already been banned (and those comments deleted) by the time I got home. I'm glad the poster was banned, but after such an emotionally exhausting day, Maryscott should never have been subjected to that kind of abuse.

Of course, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that a life was saved, and beagleandtabby's father wrote:
Words on a screen are senseless right now, but I would like to thank Maryscott for the 911 no matter what come in the days ahead. I have no plan or ideas. I only ask that those of you who know him and love him find a way to support him.
In an update to the "He is alive" essay, Maryscott has reported that she has spoken to beagleandtabby. He has asked that his original post be taken down, and she has done so. She had taken down the diary at Kos earlier, because of the awful comments some people made. I've since discovered that, while the diary is gone, those comments are not. I only saw a couple of those comments, but I saw some very well fed "bad wolves". They were feasting. Think of the caricatures of Henry VIII ripping into a turkey drumstick with gusto. It was pretty disturbing.

Sometimes it can be hard to look away from a grisly scene of destruction. But sometimes it becomes vital that we force ourselves to do just that. Because the more you get sucked in, the harder it can be to pull yourself away. Okay, only speaking for myself--*I* can have a hard time tearing myself away. And then I really enjoy seeing someone with a black belt in snark artfully taking down an obnoxious S.O.B.

Ah, Schadenfreude--the breakfast (and lunch, and dinner) of bad wolf champions. But again and again, I have to remind myself--that's not the wolf I want to feed.

And another thing--going back to that story. About that good wolf... is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
He or she is still a wolf. Still fights when it is right to do so, and in the right way. It's okay to be angry. We *should* be angry about the injustices in the world, and that anger should move us to positive action. "Good wolf anger" is a lot more likely to have that kind of positive outcome. I know this on some level, but occasionally it slips my mind. So from time to time, I'll have to remind myself, "Make sure you're feeding the right wolf."


Maryscott OConnor said...

Thank you, Renee.

That's all I can say, for now.

Thank you.

Diane said...

worth the crosspost dear!

(but note: the post was by B&T's dad not mom.)

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