|On Sheep, Wolves And Sheepdogs
|by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
confront the wolf." Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, "We intimidate
those who intimidate others."
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. The gift of aggression
"What goes on around you.... compares little with what goes on inside you."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyone has been given a gift in life. Some people have a gift for science and some have a flair
for art. And warriors have been given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift
than a doctor would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their gift to
help others, These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift of aggression and a love
for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our warriors.
One career police officer wrote to me about this after attending one of my Bulletproof Mind training
"I want to say thank you for finally shedding some light on why it is that I can do what I do. I always
knew why I did it. I love my [citizens], even the bad ones, and had a talent that I could return to my
community. I just couldn't put my finger on why I could wade through the chaos, the gore, the
sadness, if given a chance try to make it all better, and walk right out the other side."
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 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.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. Fle has fangs and the
capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not
ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog 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