Skip to comments.ON SHEEP, WOLVES, AND SHEEPDOGS
Posted on 02/13/2006 10:03:02 AM PST by roaddog727
ON SHEEP, WOLVES, AND SHEEPDOGS
By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, RANGER, Ph.D., author of "On Killing."
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? -- William J. Bennett in a lecture to the US Naval Academy November 24, 1997
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true.
Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation:
We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful.
For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens?
What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.
But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."
Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.
Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel?
Remember how many times you heard the word hero?
Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.
There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.
There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. -- Edmund Burke
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you.
If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
For example, many officers carry their weapons in church.? They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs.? Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.
I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"
Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.
Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"
It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.
Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy.
Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.
Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."
Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.
And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.
If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime.
Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other.
Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made so and kept so by the exertions of men better than himself. -- John Stuart Mill
Yes, I am a Sheepdog.
Should be posted daily!
I think I'll carry my 9mm from now on.....
Sheepdog? I'd rather be a hound hunting the wolves rather than wait for them to attack.
I am a Man. An individual. A hunter/gatherer. I do not ask for others to sacrifice their lives for me, nor will I sacrifice any part of my life for them absent a compelling reason for me to do so. I treat all others as an equal until they prove themselves otherwise.
I need no "elite class" protecting me from the very dangers they refuse to let us protect ourselves from.
While an interesting read, it's basic premises are deeply flawed. If the sheepdog gets hungry enough, it will turn on the flock as surely as the wolf would.
This has been posted many times.
Ping for a good read!
I dunno about that one. Hounds tend to have high burnout rates. Ever take a good look at a sheepdog? Defines the term laid back. That's for me. Live easy...die hard.
The cops cowered outside at Columbine until it was over. I would have walked in and killed the bastards to protect my kids.
The "Sheepdogs" failed miserably on 911. Many sheep were slaughtered.
Too many "sheepdogs" are miserably trained and poor performers and the bad ones are rarely if ever removed from service. Jackboot John Magaw, for example is back to kill again.
The masters of the sheepdogs want the rest of us to be their sheep.
I am neither wolf, nor dog, and I refuse to be a sheep.
I am a man. I prefer to protect myself and my own, and do not want my "masters" to get in the way of that.
When they do, they are no better than the wolves.
I have been saying similar things for years. The truth however never seems to get thru to some folks. The 1911, while heavy at times, is always a comfort.
I have both - M1911A1 and S&W39.
1911A1 goes in the car - S&W39 in the concealed holster.
Use both for better coverage........
And it should be posted now and again for newbies to read as well as crusty vets.
At the end of the day, both the wolves and sheepdogs feast on mutton.
This would be a better story if much more succinct. I see where the author is trying to go, he just uses way too many words trying to get there.
~ Blue Jays ~
Is it lonely in your cave?
Not quite. At least one of the SWAT teams clearing the schoolrooms at Columbine did so *clearing by fire* with automatic weapons fire into rooms in which surviving victims were present. Another fired full-auto bursts down a hallway to keep survivors in their rooms, and there's the particularly notorious example of the SWATzie cop who ordered the two students trying to stop coach William "Dave" Sanders from bleeding to death to *stop what he was doing* and get their hands up...whereupon Sanders bled to death in the school's SCI-3 science classroom.
At about 3:00 PM, about three hours after Klebold and Harris had reportedly *committed suicide* in the library....
Very good read.... I could have been a wolf long ago but my children turned me into a sheepdog.
Nice find. Bookmarked.
Trite. Another one that doesn't get it. So little sheep, how are you today?
The sheepdog gets it's sustenance from the Shepard and rarely goes hungry.
Armed and ready.
Oh, and by the way, in community for nearly 2 decades with like minded people who I would and do trust with all that is precious to me.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken ... Ecclesiastes 4:12
That's not to say we don't need full time sheepdogs, we obviously do, especially for defense against the wolves and bears out there. However for the other less dangerous but still very numerous predators, there will never be enough full time sheepdogs, the flock needs there own teeth for those.
Think of us more like elephants. Peaceful and productive members of the herd to be sure, but ready to stomp threats, without having to wait for the sheepdogs.
Dang fingers have minds of their own.
Unfortunately, some of sheep dogs have strayed off the reservation er ranch.
Dogs have been known to go feral as well.
I agree w/ you two. I own dogs. I am not one.
Who says I stand alone? Individuals who treat each other as equals, can stand against a common enemy without having to treat each other as sheep and sheppard.
Sheep are made not born. If the public are sheep it is because the real wolves at the top have worked to make it so. And that work has been the job of the sheepdogs as well. He doesn't just protect, he is primarily a herder. (Orwell has an interesting take on this in Animal Farm.) The "sheep" don't like the sheepdog not because he reminds them that there are wolves out there but because he resents being herded in an ever tighter circle.
This whole article is infused with the sort of contempt for the public and fascistic militarism that is becoming a disease among law enforcement. Not to mention a Barney Fife-like pretentiousness. You're literally far more likely to die of heart disease from excess dough-nut consumption than on duty, so back it on up a little, Barn. You're not commandos, you're not sheepdogs, this ain't a war, even the criminals aren't war enemies, and you ain't warriors. Officers of the Law is good enough.
Great post. Thanks
I have a big dislike for the prevelance of SWAT teams and the militarization of police forces. Too much $$$ spent on blackhawk gear and balaclavas and not enough on training.
Contrast that approach to Columbine, that someone posted about earlier, or any entrance to a suspected criminals lair.
Here comes the chest beating of the contrarians, hope you don't mind some thoughtless criticism. they'll tell you all kinds of crap about bad allegory and how they don't need no badges etc...
I at least implied it, based on my internal reaction to your word "individual" ... it was a conclusion I should not have jumped to ... mea culpa
As for me, I'm not an island, nor do have any desire to be one. I am, by my own choice, knit to the lives of those in the community I referred to in my previous post. They have a 20 year history of consistent (for human beings) trustworthiness in both good times and excruciatingly hard times ... hence my previous reference to a cord of three strands.
Not for any particular reason. I just like the thought of being an otter.
LOL... Thanks for a good laugh. :-)
I admit to being a bit of a loner and to not trusting the "community" to have all it's constituents best interests at heart. However, I have picked my friends with care and I would trust every one of them at my back.
"If policemen are sheepdogs, who do they work for? Certainly not the sheep."
Correct - they work for the shephard.
"This whole article is infused with the sort of contempt for the public and fascistic militarism that is becoming a disease among law enforcement." Are you calling the member of the armed forces of the unted states facists? If so, you best be treading mighty lightly........
And whom do you see as the shepard?
Satan-Claus is out there, and he's just getting stronger.
'The Last Boy Scout'
"And whom do you see as the shepard?"
Certainly not me.
Perhaps the POTUS - and no, not a Republican or a Democrat. Just POTUS.
The article doesn't address the problem of the sheepdogs that want everyone to remain sheep. I have tactical training, experience and ability that far exceeds the typical COP however there are a number of places it is illegal for me to carry. A large number of police administrators are opposed to citizens being able to defend themselves.