A sheep dog or sheepdog is generally a dog or breed of dogs historically used in connection with the raising of sheep. These may include livestock guardian or pastoral dogs used to guard sheep and other livestock in farms for farmers, and herding dog, a dog used to herd sheep and other livestock.
Several months ago as were just getting started at Faultline one of our Charleston F3 brothers was leading us. Joey Varin or JV in F3 speak was our Q for that dark and frosty Thursday workout. JV and I had been acquainted for several years and I knew him to be a Citadel Grad, an Army Officer, and a veteran of military deployments to the sand box on the other side of the pond. He is an intelligent and well-spoken man and one of good character. When he addressed us at the COT that morning he spoke of the three types of people walking around on earth. The Sheep – make up the majority – happy, innocent, loving, and often a bit naïve. Then there are the wolves – fierce, intimidating bullies, interested in only feeding their hungers – at the cost of the sheep. Lastly there are the sheepdogs. They are the counter balance to the wolves. The yin to their yang. They are the ones who stand the post, look down from a better vantage point, and watch over the sheep. They are the ones who put themselves between the wolves and the sheep – often to their own peril – so the sheep can be at peace. At the time he told this story I believed it to be an inspiration for us to continue to grow strong with the like-minded men beside us. After months of F3 boot camps, several CSAUPs, and plenty of discussion with former military brothers like Goose I realize it is so much more.
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.” 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.
Being a sheepdog is not about beating your chest or puffing it up as others draw near you. It is not about being some knuckle head bad ass with something to prove. The world is full of the fake tough (those big chest puffers who deflate when confronted with danger) and the crazy brave (those who rush into any situation albeit unprepared) who are no help to anyone. To me it means so much more. Preparing for what you hope will never happen – no one should truly wish for conflict but rather should live in peace as much as possible. Acknowledging the fears within you and setting goals to conquer them. Preparing yourself on every level – body, mind, and spirit! Getting physically stronger is important but only one aspect of preparedness. Getting your mind right is equally important. Having a can-do attitude that says I won’t let this life beat me down. If I go down I will get back up and if my brother goes down I will pick him up. Spiritually speaking there are many different beliefs but all have the common themes of love, compassion, and respect for human life. To acknowledge these is a key to helping understand why the sheepdog is needed and what his role is to the sheep. If we strive for all of these – the body, mind, and spirit – then we hit the trifecta of being a sheepdog.
Often times the sheepdog is looked upon with disdain or not at all. As JV pointed out they do not usually stay amongst the sheep but rather stand a post far and away so as to be alerted to danger before it gets too close. The sheep want to go on being sheep and pretending they live in a modern day utopia. A typical attitude is that no one wants one until they need one! Well brother’s sheepdogs do not live in a glass enclosed box on the wall that reads break only in the event of trouble! The sheepdogs need to be out in the open for all to see. For the sheep to know they are going to be ok and for the wolves to understand not to try anything foolish – NOT ON MY WATCH! The sheepdogs need to be prepared, vigilant, and out in force. Wolves are everywhere and closing our eyes and pretending they are not – well let’s just say that is the ultimate act of foolishness.
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, 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 sheepdog.
The world is not the same world our parents and grandparents knew. The evil that is around us continues to spawn and metastasize. Don’t misunderstand – there has and will always be wolves in this world. However with the technology of our time – the technology that makes our lives easier and better too – the wolves are adapting too! There are more, more fierce wolves today because of technology! Combine that with the erosion of governmental leadership, and moral values and it is not a far walk to see that pack of wolves waiting to pounce on the innocents of sheep that are all around. Of course the wolves probably did not count on a group of men under the flag of F3!
Brothers this piece is not to make our group into a fighting force. It is not to turn us into a band of citizen soldiers. Many of us have served and many continue to do so and that is honorable. It is not to debate the political climate of our time – in a group such as ours we will all have differing views about political decisions and stances. It is certainly not to bemoan the sheep! It is merely to remind us that what we do is very important. It is more than just getting together a few times a week to do merkins and burpees, and CSAUPs. 1st F. More than just a few craft beers and good conversation. 2nd F More than just enjoying some spiritual time together. 3rd F You see – in each of those three you will find a subtle rebirth of the SHEEPDOG. I write rebirth because that’s what I believe we were all born as. I believe that while many have slipped into a sheep-like state we were sheepdogs all along. We were sheepdogs in sheep’s clothing! We have started to shed that skin and are re-emerging as what we were born to be. That is what you are doing by commiting your time to this F3 brotherhood. Make no mistake it is not an easy or short journey. It takes time and is often painful to complete but in the end we will be the SHEEPDOGS that we were born to be.
“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.”
Who knows when we might be called to act? It could be something involving your family or a friend. It could be something that is happening in your community. Or it could come from the wolves that seek to hurt the sheep from outside our borders. Doesn’t matter. A sheepdog is a sheepdog no matter the threat. Look in the mirror – are you that sheepdog? If not let’s get there together – learn, work, grow, stay vigilant, and remember there is always trouble in the wind!
A little Runyard Kipling for closing:
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
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,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)
“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
Credit excerpts to this article – http://www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm
Hot Spot – AYE!