On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

June 2009

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? Then you are 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.

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Jim commented:

heh. reminds me of PS's cows, pigs and sheep...

Fraser commented:

Bollocks! I'm a hedgehog.

Nato commented:

Sounds overly romantic - A hero? Walking out of the heart of darkness unscathed? ... too many comics for someone...

I'd argue that most, if not all people, have their own innate capacity for violence. Not necessarily physical violence, but forcing their own way on others to the detriment of their victims. How we respond to violence is a difficult one. Ideally we want to avoid meeting violence with violence, because that really just perpetuates things, blurring the line between victim, rescuer and perpetrator. But life is never simple

Jonathan commented:

NATO, you are absolutely wrong. You might want to read the entire thing. This passage is by By Lt.Col. (ret.) Dave Grossman, Army Ranger, psychology professor, author of "On Killing" and the upcoming "On Combat". I think that without having the right experience in life as a prerequisite, most people can understand exactly what Colonel Grossman is trying to say.

Once you have seen the worst humanity has to offer you can truly appreciate the sheepdog analogy. NATO, I challenge you to meet violence with pacifism. The fact of the matter is, that pacifists meet violence with the protection of the potentially violent police power of the state, and world history has shown us that peace for the sake of peace turns out to be oppression, and that true peace has never been achieved without first having victory against the aggressors.

You may fancy yourself an intellectual, Nathan, but you have a very limited perspective, and have been living a sheltered life.

I'll tell you briefly about my friend Patrick. Patrick was a hippie. He was a complete and total pacifist. You can only imagine my confusion when I found this out in the middle of a long combat deployment. I asked Patrick why he chose to be in the infantry of all thing. He replied, "How can I call my self a pacifist if I'm doing it out of fear?", and "The only way I can be a true pacifist is to experience the most extreme violence." Of course after 12 months of combat, Patrick now believes that there is a need for some violence in the world.

Nato commented:

This is sadly ironic - your comment is an example of someone using violent methods in a discussion. By insulting me and telling me I am absolutely wrong, you in the role of the sheepdog, and I am a wolf who needs to be chased away. But the problem is that I'm not the wolf - I'm fairly sympathetic to hear what you have to say. Perhaps I was in a rush when I wrote 'violence is difficult... ideally we should be pacificists... but life isn't simple', but I thought I was communicating that I don't write off this view point completely, and I appreciate this world is complicated, and some times there may be a time to use violent methods to protect yourself from the evil that is in this world. But the point that you illustrate is that by using violence you run the risk of becoming a violent person. And so the sheepdog becomes a wolf.

But you know more about yourself than me, so do what you will with your life, but my word of warning is this, be careful you don't become a wolf in order to protect yourself from wolves.

Matt commented:

Good point, Nato. There's a super-fine line between sheepdog and wolf. I don't think anyone gets to wield violence without being touched or marked by it.