Who am I? - With the holiday coming up to celebrate our nation’s independence, I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about who makes up this great nation. We see on a daily basis in the news that there are those who wish us harm, to coin a military phrase “both foreign and domestic”.
The consistent reminder of this risk recently made me think of an article I read years ago. It’s titled “On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs” by LTC (ret) Dave Grossman.
In this article, LTC Grossman recalls a veteran who put our society in three categories. He compared the majority of people in our society to sheep. Not in a bad way, but they are peaceful, harmless individuals who go about their daily business never causing trouble or harming other members of the flock. Then there are wolves. The wolves are the members of our society that feed on the sheep. They pray on the flock, have a strong propensity for violence and are lacking the moral code that stops them from harming the flock. Finally, there are sheepdogs. The sheepdogs live to protect the flock. They have the willingness and ability to confront the wolves and protect the sheep at all costs. These are the Police, Military and Fire professionals that help our society thrive.
While he spent a good deal of the article reflecting on how society doesn’t appreciate the sheepdog until it is needed, the final breakdown went something like this; “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.”
As a member of the military, and a sheepdog myself, I felt very connected to this article for years. It was only recently that I came to the realization that his analogy is missing a vital member of society. As I left the service, I felt the desire to continue to help the flock. While Police, Fire or even Military Contractor was an option, I no longer felt the need to place myself in those high demand / high risk situations. It was then I decided to become a shepherd.
I have defined the shepherd as one who has empathy for the flock and a deep caring for the members of our society, but instead of defending the flock from the outside, chooses to strengthen the flock from within. The shepherds are the volunteers, the community and nonprofit leaders and those in the medical and teaching professions.
So, take a moment this holiday to figure out where you fit in. If you are happy as a sheep, fantastic. Enjoy and be grateful. If you are a wolf, be aware that the sheepdog will come for you eventually. If you are a sheepdog, thank you for your efforts. But if you are a sheep who seems to be missing something, try becoming a shepherd. You will find it incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
Happy 4th everyone.