On Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by Trip_Wire, Dec 25, 2006.

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  1. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP

    On Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves

    By Dave Grossman

    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 that 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, which 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, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog 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.

    "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

    "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 any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were 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... "Baa."

    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.
  2. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP

    Cont. On Sheepdogs & Wolves.:

    To Our Sheepdogs

    It’s so easy to forget them there,
    As we warm beside the fire,
    Those spread so far out everywhere,
    Those sent to man the wire.
    Patrolling on the front line,
    As peacefully here we bask,
    Protecting what is yours and mine,
    That’s their hard, dreary task.
    Like sheep we are protected,
    From the far off wolves of war,
    And our Sheepdogs as expected,
    Never waver from their chore.
    In peace we sheep ignore their kind,
    Wary of their violent trends;
    But when the wolves attack we find,
    These Sheepdogs are our friends.
    Forever this has been the way,
    Since time for us began,
    Sheep fearing that the Sheepdogs may
    Disrupt our placid plan.
    Yet time again Dogs surely prove,
    When comes a wolfine danger,
    The Sheepdogs will most swiftly move
    To guard the lambs, the manger.
    So here’s to Sheepdogs everywhere
    At this Christmas time of year;
    Just know the flock is with you there,
    And we wish you Christmas cheer.
    We wish we could advance the clock,
    Cause truth is, Dogs, we miss you,
    To the day that you’ll rejoin the flock,
    When we’ll sheepishly then kiss you.
    Russ Vaughn
  3. Hasn't this been done recently
  4. Yup! Here. Though Trips second post is new to the site.
  5. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP

    Sorry if it was done before; however, IMHO opinion it is always worth repeating, for those sheepdog warriors out there! Also, it defines who the second part of the message is talking about.

    Here is another place with a Special Military Christmas Wish! (Video)

    Although its designed for American Military, I'm sure it applies to all serving military.

  6. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP


    Tending Distant Fires
    Far from hearth and home, watching
    Cold alone but not alone
    On distant shore and only wanting
    Safe return and little more
    What tales we'll tell
    When that time comes
    When tales can be told
    When things grim
    Seem far away
    When other fires go cold
    Some distant sunset, vision fading
    Memories remain
    And tired eyes gaze 'pon folded flags
    While distant drums beat their refrain
    Saluting fallen friends whose names
    And youth will never fade
    Here's to those on other shores,
    for them live well, the price is paid

    - Greyhawk,
    -- Iraq, December 2004
  7. Sheep wont accept armed officers in their schools not becasuse of denial, but because the incidence of fire related deaths is so much higher than that of violent deaths.

    its a delightfully clever analogy - it could have been done in three lines, but the verbose grandiose cloyingly insightful version was evidently superior. Thankyou great American Orator for showing us your true wisdom, revealing truths that have never been noticed in all of the great litterature of the Roman or Greek classics nor the middle ages, nor the rennaisance, or the ham fisted crayon drawings of a retarded child.

    Best of luck inventing the wheel - and explaing why apples fall to earth.

    For the brits with less patience.

    It amounts to 'Beddgelert'
  8. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP


    What would a 'sheep' like you know of warriors?

    It is sure tiresome, to read all your remarks in these forums. One can always count on the following from you! Always critical, always cynical, never constructive or enlightning, always a pain in the arrse!!

    I see no correlation between your comment, about Beddgelert and the post I made about warriors, other then it mentions a mythical dog!

    I suspect that you might also be a better Christmas 'Grinch' then most I've met! Merry Christmas Grinch!

  9. although I would normally be sly of Trip_Wire, the sentiment is well placed.

    "Evil will win when good men (AND WOMEN) do nothing"

    I know I keep going on about it, but it seems that the military is a male perserve DAAAAA!. Women are an important part of what we do, my last boss was a woman, who passed all tests given, and embarrased all who were there to laugh at her failure. I have been in situations where, the person next to me had tits and an A2, and the will to use it!

    Sheep are there to be protected, it's what we do and we should be proud of the fact, irrespective of what the sheep thinkl It is a vocation.

    "It is the soldier who fights for the right for people to burn the flag of our Countries, the right of free speech and call us all the names of the day."

    We are advanced citizens, not the master race, we care, we feel, we die if not us then who?

  10. http://www.blackfive.net/main/2004/10/i_only_hang_wit.html has this item posted amongst the wider American service community. Some of the quotes are what one would expect in the context of peace, love, mom and apple pie but there are some dissenters. In http://www.theppsc.org/Grossman/Main-R.htm Grossman’s ideas are submitted to what one might consider peer review.
    To me, he is the living embodiment of General Ripper who launched the atomic attack on Russia in Dr Strangelove – see his fascination about bodily fluids and Russians not drinking water. The web site www.killology.com is surely a parody?
  11. But enough of your love life! :D

    Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs. It's not a bad analogy but at the end of the day it is only an analogy. In Carpe Diems thread, that I linked to further up this thread, the text was severely truncated (in terms of what was missed rather than quantity). I had a bit of an issue with the text as it was presented (and I'm not suggesting it was Carpes doing) and googled to find the original. As it proved it did significantly alter the meaning. Trip has posted it in its entirety so I have no beef with him about posting it. I linked to the original thread to allow people to see what was there rather than maybe rehash ground which was already covered.
  12. I have a few doubts about his "peer". Read the comments on the Falklands halfway down.
  13. Maybe my choice of 'peer' was inaccurate? I meant that he was in discussion with guys who live and work in the same sort of arena as Grossman. Hence, I would suggest. they are likely to better examine his propositions than the majority of us commenting on this forum. Where someone here could assist is with ref to the Falklands item.

    You have no comment on the Dr Strangelove connection? I have to be careful with my opinions due to my forum-name but if I could put that aside I'd comment that I would not like this guy to get too close to any kids of mine.
  14. Beddgelert was a Sheepdog.
    He violently defended his charges.
    His master misapproproated the evidence to suggest the violent dog was a murderer not a defender.

    He fits the convoluted example set. Tame wolf capable of violence yet directed to the interests of defending the weak. Misunderstood by his masters and suffered as a consequence.

    (P.S. He isnt mythical)
  15. Trip_Wire

    Trip_Wire RIP

    The Myth

    Llywelyn is very fond of hunting and in the summer he lives in a hunting lodge at the foot of Snowdon. Although he has many dogs, his favourite is Gelert, because not only is he fearless in the hunt he's also a loyal friend and companion at home. One day Llewelyn and his wife go out hunting, leaving their baby son with a nurse and a servant to look after him. The nurse and the servant go for a walk in the mountains leaving the baby alone and unprotected.
    Llewelyn is absorbed in his hunting, but after a while he notices that Gelert isn't with the pack. The Prince knows something is wrong as Gelert is always at the front of the pack. He reasons that the only place Gelert would go is back to the lodge, so he calls off the hunt and heads back home.
    As the party is dismounting, Gelert comes running out of the lodge towards his master, covered in blood and wagging his tail. The Princess, calling her child's name, faints. Llewelyn rushes into the baby's room to find the cradle overturned, the bloodstained bedclothes thrown all over the floor - and no sign of his son.
    Filled with anger and grief he draws his sword and runs Gelert through. As the dog dies, he whimpers and his cries are answered by the sound of a baby crying from behind the overturned cradle. When Llewelyn pulls aside the cradle he finds his son unharmed and the bloody body of a huge wolf next to him. Gelert had in fact killed the wolf as it tried to attack Llewelyn's son.
    Filled with remorse, Llewelyn buries Gelert in a meadow nearby and marks his grave with a cairn of stones. The village of Beddgelert (Gelert's grave) owes its name to this site. :wink: