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On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Joe Link, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    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
    United States 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.
     
  2. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    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...
    "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.
     
  3. Bend

    Bend Central OR Member

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  4. Spray-n-pray

    Spray-n-pray Battle Ground Moderator Staff Member Bronze Supporter

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    Thank you for posting this. There were several mentions of 9/11 and how those incidents changed many people's way of thinking, which was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately too many of those same people have gone back to sleep. Nobody thinks that anything could happen to them or in their town, but even Vancouver had a bomb scare today at a high school. Praise God that nobody was hurt, and that there are sheepdogs who will risk life and limb so that others can enjoy their freedoms and their lives.
     
  5. BUZO71

    BUZO71 Emerald Valley, Oregon New Member

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    Excellent read... if you have never met Col Grossman, GO TO ONE OF HIS SEMINARS! What a great American
     
  6. Doc In UPlace

    Doc In UPlace Tacoma-ish Well-Known Member

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    I recommend Thomas P.M. Barnett too, if you're looking for a larger scale perspective...
     
  7. JumpWing

    JumpWing NK WA Member

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    I am a sheepdog.

    sheepdog_d2.jpg