Let’s Feed the Right Wolf

If we do, the transition will still be tough, but better days lie beyond.

You might have heard the “Tale of the Two Wolves,” which is of Cherokee or Lenape origin. Put simply, the wolf you feed is the one that prevails. One represents despair and hate, the other optimism and love.

Lets Feed the Right Wolf

I had to turn off the news for a few days last week. I could feel the bad wolf rising. Isn’t it enough that we’ve slogged through almost three years of COVID? Now we’ve been slammed with unthinkable public murder sprees, an ongoing coup to dismantle our democracy, and extreme weather that seems to be getting worse each month.

Seriously, where’s the escape hatch? My friends call me, half in their cups, wrangling with depression. They ask me how I keep my head above water; what keeps me going. Do I have a “naïve” belief that things will all work out?

It’s a fact that some people simply seem to have more optimism. But in my case (as I’m sure with yours), the reality is much more complex. Some of it comes from being American. I believe there is a deep core of fairness and courage in the American heart—despite our many failings. 

For 240-plus years, we have imperfectly shown that diverse people can live together, prosper, and share responsibility and power. There’s a reason people from all over the world still want to live here. 

The turmoil going on culturally, in my view, is a predictable and unfortunate phase in our evolution as a nation. It’s also an artificial one, spurred on by a handful of ruthless opportunists: TV pundits, politicians, ax-grinding judges, and shameless hoarders of wealth. They have identified certain “hot buttons,” such as fear of immigrants, that they try to use to put us at odds with our neighbors. 

It’s an old playbook, but its effects have a predictable arc. We’re at the start of what I believe will be a 15- or 20-year period of struggle. In the end, as in past conflicts, the bad actors will be overcome, and we will emerge from it better, more whole, and more appreciative of what we have.

Why do I believe this? I can give you many examples. Our staff and freelance network at Green Builder have never been more diverse. Right now, I’m testing one of the first-ever solar-powered heat pump systems, a 12,000 BTU, 22 SEER unit, from a company called Airspool. It runs directly from solar panels, with no need for batteries, charge controller, or inverter. It’s something I’ve been predicting for the last five years. It’s also something I’ve been told repeatedly by industry wonks was not possible.

Meanwhile, gas companies have doubled down on propaganda, this time aimed at minorities and Latinos, and suggesting that fossil fuels are key to our renewable future. Part of the story being told is that the grid won’t handle the conversion to solar-powered electric homes.

But innovations like the solar heat pump put the lie to those arguments. That’s going to happen again and again if we feed the wolf of innovation and optimism, and starve the wolf of lies and despair. 

Will problems such as Climate Change solve themselves? Absolutely not. We must remain flexible, but also courageous. Our use of resources must shift to “full circle” models of efficiency. We must challenge our expectations of comfort, and look at what we lose by clinging to the past too tightly. 

We have everything we need to craft a world of future abundance. The wolf lies within each of us, not “out there.” Let’s make the right choice.