As I’ve aged and absorbed more knowledge about the realities of this life, one world-view paradigm continues to withstand the test of time. The Sheep, the Wolves, and the Sheepdogs paradigm continues to ring true within every fiber of my being, and grows stronger with each glance at current events around the world. The harsh reminder that Wolves exist has again been thrust upon us in no uncertain terms. Times like these are also reminders of what being a Sheepdog means.
With the title ‘Sheepdog’ comes certain burdens which should be explained, especially when current events allow for a powerful illustration to the point. I have been blessed with the ability to write, and based on reactions to current events, I feel a tremendous importance in attempting to translate the thoughts and emotions of at least one of the Sheepdog class in hopes contrasting us with the Wolves and reinforcing the notion that the danger to the Flocks never disappears.
News of violence against innocence enters my thoughts. Calculations, assumptions, and estimations mix with imagination. A slight tremor grows from the center of my chest and flows through my body to my limbs. A slight tingling creeps up my spine towards the base of the skull. The sensation could only be described as a mix of sublimated rage, confidence, and an overwhelming desire to protect. It almost feels like the vibration from an engine rotating within a confined case in my body. The ‘fangs’ come out. These are the results of mental rehearsals in the mind of Sheepdogs. Adrenaline On Demand.
Just as the tingling of adrenaline surges in, a crushing sense of defeat also washes in. Our Flock has been infiltrated. With each new act of violence, a growing sense of cynicism develops and a twisted sense of humor becomes the only protection from directly facing that sick feeling of failure. The lives of Sheep under our stead have been stolen and we have failed again.
Of course, the “we” I refer to is a global, unspoken ‘guild’ of Sheepdogs. There is a palpable affinity that could be described as a sixth sense of sorts when identifying other members of this guild. There is something about the posture, or a recognition of some keen awareness in the eyes. There is immediate comfort in the presence of other members of this unofficial guild. They are fellow allies in a timeless War which often goes unnoticed to those Sheep fortunate enough to have lived a peaceful life. Lives blissfully ignorant simply because they remain untouched by the unforgettable, cold gaze of hatred and Malevolence that can only come from a true Wolf. Just as a true Sheepdog can recognize their brothers and sisters, so too can we recognize a true Wolf.
Many similarities exist between the Wolf and the Sheepdog. We do not fear the application of violence. We have a solid competence and understanding of our physical strengths and limitations. We know and are completely comfortable in the use of our claws, teeth, and fangs – our weapons. We often look alike. We may growl, snarl, or even bite to get our points across. But there is a stark divide between us. The greatest difference between Sheep and Wolves can be found in the vast divide between two simple words: Benevolence and Malevolence.
We are engaged in a constant battle between ‘peace through strength’ and ‘power through violence’. Wolves prefer to hide in the shadows and wait for their moment to strike. When the Sheepdogs are away, the Wolves will hunt their prey. But just as the Wolves have their methods, so too do Sheepdogs. Though some stand guard and openly display themselves as the Sheepdogs and protectors of the Flock, we Sheepdogs are wise enough to recognize the value of hiding in plain sight. We dress the part and appear as Sheep. We are polite, gentle, unassuming within the Flock; yet we remain vigilant, always waiting for the banners of Malevolence to appear. Waiting for our moment to remind the Flock that we truly care for them and love them. Waiting to fulfill our role as protectors. Indeed, our desire is to be happy warriors.
We are not always happy, however. It becomes apparent at times that some in the Flock do not, or will not differentiate between Sheepdog and Wolves. To the dismay of Sheepdogs and the joy of Wolves, we are equated in the minds of some Sheep. These Sheep loudly proclaim our teeth are the same and wholly devoid of intent or motive. This fear and hatred of teeth and the pain they can cause are seen as the source of suffering within the Flock.
Malevolence becomes the same as Benevolence. The urge to protect becomes no different than the desire for control. Solutions to end the suffering are proposed: the forcible removal of fangs and claws. The Flock becomes divided and Sheep begin to distrust the Sheepdogs in their midst.
As a Sheepdog (and as a trained adviser), I would like to remind the Sheep in this Flock that forcibly removing the teeth of your protectors without eliminating the teeth of your destroyers will ultimately result in a loss of peace and inevitably, the bitter taste of Malevolence.
Also, consider the “How?” behind this plan: we Sheepdogs will not willingly part with the tools of our trade. Few of us would willingly allow Sheep to simply remove the same teeth which defend our Flock, unless forced through the application of violence. Though I do not know any Sheepdogs who would willingly defang their brethren, I can’t think of any Wolves who would not rejoice at the sight of fang-less Sheepdogs.
Only Wolves would willingly enforce such a plan. Woe to any Flock who would knowingly employ Wolves to defang the Sheepdogs. Such a Flock would be cursed to living under fear and ‘power through violence’ will become the new order of the day.
I do not claim to be a hero, or anything remotely close to the word. I have many flaws and have paid the consequences of many painful decisions in my life, though I will proclaim under no uncertain terms that I am a Sheepdog and I have no desire to submit to the whims of the Wolves. I pray our Flock comes to recognize the Malevolence in their midst and accept the reality that this timeless Battle against suffering will never be won by weakening those who have sworn to protect them.
“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… many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid’s school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.” -Lt. Col.(RET) Dave Grossman