|On Sheep, Wolves And Sheepdogs
|by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
sheepdog. As Kipling said in his poem about "Tommy" the British soldier:
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an "Tommy, fall berind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind, There's trouble in the wind,
my boys, there's trouble in the wind, 0 it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the
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 littie 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
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 vvarriors, 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.
While there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, he does have one real
advantage. Only one. 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 acts 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.
However, when there were cues given by potential victims that indicated they would not go easily,
the cons said that they would walk away. If the cons sensed that the target was a "counter
predator," that is, a sheepdog, they would leave him alone unless there was no
other choice but to engage.
One police officer told me that he rode a commuter train to work each day. One day, as was
his usual, he was standing in the crowded car, dressed in blue jeans, T-shirt and jacket,
holding onto a pole and reading a paperback. At one of the stops, two street toughs boarded,
shouting and cursing and doing every obnoxious thing possible to intimidate the other riders. The
officer continued to read his book, though he kept a watchful eye on the