For centuries, people believed in the fairy tale of the wolf as a wild beast. Who threatens our survival and lives in a world full of violence and brutality, in which only the right of the fittest counts.
The wildest myths were about the leader, who was believed to be a being of brutal strength. A bloody despot who jumped at the throat of anyone who threatened his place.
This picture is also the basis of the well-known maxim: “man is a wolf to man.”
But nothing could be more wrong than that.
Neither man is a wolf to man, nor are wolves the bloodthirsty beasts as we still see them today.
Rather, it is just a sign of how we think and live our lives, but it has nothing to do with the reality in a pack of wolves.
Because if wolves really were like that, they could never have survived as a species.
If one observes wolves in the wild, then one sees that it is primarily social beings who ensure the well-being of their family in a finely tuned coexistence.
Of course, a pack is always about dominance and the enforcement of hierarchy and rules. But most of a wolf’s life consists of social interaction, mutual touch and playing together.
Therefore the leader of the pack is rarely the brutal wolf we know from myths. Rather, he is the animal with the strongest mind capable of ensuring his family’s survival in a hostile environment.
Besides him there are many wolves stronger than him, better hunters or faster runners. But there is no one who is so competent and who is so willing to put his life at the service of his family.
That’s why there are so few fights for power in the great outdoors.
Because even if the leader is injured, no other animal takes over his role, but he is cared for until he can take his place again.
From this point of view, the sentence: “Man is a wolf to man” takes on a completely different meaning.
Not to see man as the enemy of man, but to understand him as a social being who is in the world to live in and care for his family.
Someone who wrote a story in this sense was Mario Puzo.
His book “The Godfather” is well known today as the great epic about a brutal mafia clan.
But even if it is about crime on the surface, about violence, suffering and breaking the law, there is a much stronger narrative among them, which is especially important for us men.
For it contains truths which we have not only forgotten today, but which we apparently no longer want to hear.
The Corleone family, like all of us, lives in a hostile world. In a world where their path to poverty seems to be marked out and there seems to be no escape.
But Don Corleone is rebelling against this fate.
“He refuses to subordinate his will to that of society. He refuses to live by rules that others have set, rules that condemn him to a life of misery.”
What kind of man is it that manages to lift his will against a whole world? Who is not willing to submit and abide by foreign rules?
And who creates his own independent empire for his family below the seemingly calm surface of society?
“He does not accept the rules of the society in which we live, because those rules have condemned him to a life that does not belong to a man like him, a man of such extraordinary strength and character.”
The book develops its own pull that draws us into a world unknown to us. Into a world of honor, loyalty and our own laws.
It creates a perfectly coherent picture of a closed society and we soon forget that they are basically criminals.
But we see a family living like a pack of wolves in the original sense. A family that is structured like a company and takes its place among its peers with unusual methods.
And that is precisely why it is so successful in what it does.
The core statement of the book can be summarized in a few words: “I do not trust that society will protect us. … If our family fits into society, then I want us to bring money and property. “I want to make my children as safe as possible before I release them into society.
Every father knows this wish. At heart, everyone wants to do exactly that for their family. Protecting them, securing their future and building something that is their shield in this hostile world.
But most of us seem to have forgotten that lesson. We much rather poison our lives with television, alcohol and pointless games than concentrate on our real task.
Mario Puzo shows another way, perhaps an outdated one, but definitely a truer one.
And I think that’s why we should learn a few lessons from this book. Grow in history and take it for what it is.
The story of a pack of wolves, the story of a leader who gives his life for the family he loves.
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