February 24, 2014 73 Comments
There’s a concept that’s popular among right-leaning people, , and it goes like this:
There are three kinds of people in the world: Sheep (who cannot defend themselves), Wolves (who use violence to prey on the sheep) and Sheepdogs (who use violence against the wolves to protect the sheep).
People will tell you that they like this metaphor because sheepdogs do good work; that the sheepdog’s willingness to meet wolves with wolf-like violence is an expression of its true love for the sheep. To those people, the sheepdog is special because–like wolves–it has claws, fangs, strength, speed, and that it delights in the hunt, and in the kill; yet the sheepdog is on the side of the sheep, and that this is called righteousness.
This belief is how police officers (those conservative heroes) become paramilitary units; how they justify themselves (proclaim their righteousness or excuse their unrighteousness) when they kick down the wrong door; murder pets; slaughter children; abuse and embarrass innocent people. Because the more closely a person believes that what makes sheepdogs special is the sheepdog’s likeness to wolves (possession and desire to use claws, fangs, etc.) the more likely that person is to prefer the sheepdog metaphor.
Cops will tell you that they do what they do–whatever that is–out of love for the people. It’s a deep deception that corrupts the officer because he begins to think he is the source of that love. Then, having made himself the source of love for the people, he begins to think that what he does as cop (particularly the use of violence) is “real love”, as opposed to whatever it is that all those who are not officers do. Whatever that is, it’s not “real love” because “real love” includes the desire to do violence, so non-officer don’t “really love”. Now he’s not only the source of love, but separate from them. He begins to think that whatever he does is born of love, and can justify to himself any action he takes–especially violent–as an act of love. This is called self-righteousness; which is wicked. We recognize it when SWAT teams bust into a house, and shoot a little girl.
It also misses the point of sheepdogs. The more a dog emphasizes its natural dog-ness the more likely that it will start cannibalizing the herd, because the nature of a dog is very much like the nature of a wolf. What is really interesting and useful about sheepdogs is not their dog-ness (their resemblance to wolves) but that–despite their natural resemblance to wolves–they pursue resemblance to shepherds. Sheepdogs, like shepherds, spend the great majority of their time leading, corralling, watching, and instructing the flock; walking, barking, and nipping at the sheep. A good sheepdog does not pursue threats to the herd, but deters them, and–once threats are deterred–returns to the herd, and concerns itself with keeping the herd together.
The cause of this is not love for the sheep–although that often develops–but love for the shepherd. The best sheepdogs seek the shepherd’s approval above all things; receive sustenance from the the shepherd’s hand. They revel in the shepherd’s triumph over the wolves even if it was their own fangs which the shepherd used to do it, because they recognize that it was the shepherd’s investment in them that delivered the wolf into their mouths. They celebrate the shepherd. Another way of saying this is that really good sheepdogs are just extensions of the shepherd; that they are, in fact, little shepherds.
In addition to what I’ve said above: Shepherds have a much longer and greater pedigree than sheepdogs. Why, then, don’t truth-loving, God-fearing, Bible-clinging, gun-toting Americans or other Westerners just pursue the life of a shepherd instead of doing this song-and-dance about sheepdogs? It’s because they believe shepherds are weak, stupid, dirty, and boring. (Sounding like the perception of fathers and husbands yet?) They’d rather be wolf-like “for” the sheep; they want to be Sheepwolves.
Sheepwolves, though, don’t exist. They never have because not only are they not real, they are impossible. They’re just wolves without any sense at all. The senselessness of would-be sheepwolves is apparent because “sheepwolves” (ironically and insanely) are the ones who can’t distinguish between sheep and wolves. It’s just the sort of damned nonsense you’d expect from demons.
You’re going to have to choose: Shepherd, sheep, or wolf.
I don’t remember where I first heard it, but you can find an extended version of it here.