Something came up in an online conversation I was in recently…
Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman wrote an article a long while back titled “On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs” which gives a great view of the necessity of armed individuals in a polite society. Something has always bothered me about it though, and I always thought that there was an element missing.
In Col. Grossman’s article, he describes three types of people;
- Sheep – He describes sheep as those types of people who are complacent. “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.”
- Wolves – He describes wolves as those that would prey on others. The proverbial bad guy. The ones who would give no second thought to stealing, rape, murder, and so on.
- Sheepdogs – Finally he describes sheepdogs. To him these are the military and law enforcement officers among us. The ones that run towards danger when everyone else is running away.
I don’t disagree with his descriptions, but somehow I still don’t fall into any of those categories. I’m not a sheep. I’m not afraid of or disturbed by the presence of the sheepdog. I understand their place and their role, and I appreciate them for what they do. I’m not a wolf either. I have no desire to prey upon anyone else in society. Nor am I a sheepdog. Although I did spend some time in the Army, that was long ago. I am not law enforcement, even though I have many friends who are. I have no official responsibility for the safety of the flock.
So where does that leave me? I’m not a sheepdog, since I have no responsibility to protect the sheep. I’m not a wolf, since I do not prey on the sheep, and I most certainly am not a sheep, for what are hopefully obvious reasons. After thinking about it a bit, I’m probably something more akin to the family dog. Friendly, playful, gentle, good with kids. Not someone who makes sheep nervous, but still problematic for a wolf if they decide to get too close to my family.
The flock is tended by the sheepdogs. That is their job. I do not have a duty or responsibility to run towards danger. I have some of the characteristics of the sheepdog, I am armed. But I also have characteristics of the sheep around me. I do not wear a uniform anymore. I do not have a badge and people do not call upon me when there is trouble.
If a wolf decides that I or anyone of my friends or family is prey however, they will find that I have the same teeth as the sheepdog, and the same vicious tenacity. I think that description actually fits quite a few people. Mixed in among the sheep, happy, friendly, playful. Not different enough from the sheep to make them nervous, but different enough that the wolves had best think twice.
In this analogy I’m not a sheep. I’m not a wolf. I’m not a sheepdog.
I’m a Golden Retriever.