Brian Kagen pick: “On Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves” by Dave Grossman

“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? What do you have then? 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.”

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

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  1. bruce baker says:

    A very interesting article, and it reminds me of all the soldiers who I knew as the average sheep as I grew up in my youth. There were enough sheepdogs to keep the sheep from saying or doing outrageous peaceful paranoia that sometimes invades our modern era society of 2008.

    Those who have seen the face of war, who have been in the presence of death are able to make better decisions than the herd of sheep who is not as informed and making decisions based in assumptions, speculation, and fear.

    The sheepdog can only protect the majority. Some sheep will have to become sheepdogs when the need arises, and I guess that is the point of a society that becomes faced with violence, whether it is generated internally from its members of society, or externally from the outside.

    It doesn’t have to be guns, many times the worst threats are ideas, and changes in thought. All the physical skills you practice to help you with hand to hand combat aren’t gonna help you if you can’t adapt them into verbal skills. And then sometimes it as much as motivating people who are supposed to be the sheepdogs to recognize the trouble in society some people generate.

    There is another kind of person who is neither sheepdog nor sheep. They must motivate the sheep to think, they must stand in the way of danger at times, and they must appear to be invisible as they are part of unsung heroes that live among us. It could be that guy or gal next door who struggles to meet their bills and feels terrible when they have to ask for welfare or food stamps, but sure as the sun rises … they would be the first ones to drop the guise of being sheep and put their reputations and lives on the line for people they don’t know.

    Instead of being sheep, they are the protective wolves who live among the sheep. It is not as simple as most people think. Heroes never plan to be heroes, they just see what needs to be done, and figure it would be much worse if they didn’t try. Many end up on the bad side of trying to do what is right as more often than not things go wrong, but when they go right … we pick out the heroes and raise them up.

    I am starting to think …. it is much safer to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing who is unrecognizable. Hidden in the flock of sheep the wolf can choose to say words or step out and show his teeth.

    My point? As long as you can use words to get those who are supposed to be in charge to do the right thing use words. But to ignore the fact that at some point wolves from the next valley aren’t gonna attack the fat flock of sheep is pure foolishness.

    Don’t be foolish. We must, at all costs, find ways to train both mind and body of each new generation as well as pass on the lessons of previous generations or we will repeat the mistakes of history. Human beings are stupid …. we certainly like to repeat our mistakes over and over and over again. 911 shows how stupid we can be, and how brave some average people can be too.

  2. StefanSchroeder says:

    Yippie! Is that you, John Wayne? [8] God’s Own Sheriff ridin’ through town again? [9]

    Gosh, this guys favorite movie must be ‘Dirty Harry’ [1].

    I can’t believe it. This posts reflects the ugliest sort of arrogance and warrior-elitism; it is ‘au contraire’ to the sprit of dignity that I wish to see in law enforcement personnel.

    What does it say? First, most of you, dear readers, are sheep, good sheep, mind you. Second, sheep dogs are the ‘good guys’ and any animosity you might have against them is dumb – but you’re sheep, remember?

    Well, there is some truth in the text, but in which post isn’t? Dammit, I am one of those sheep dogs, too. I glimpse into the rear of my car before sitting down in it and I hate my suspicion.

    Where I am not with the author are other points:

    First: Since the pitiable father, who lost his son in the church, could not make a difference, although he considered himself a sheep dog, implies (and the one with the ‘Baah’) that you can only by a good sheep dog with a gun on your side. How typically American. That’s the kind of thinking that lets your folk overrun the gun shows right now, fearing gun restriction laws to come [2]. This comes from that.

    Second: Speaking of denial. Perhaps the sheep live in denial of violence. But there is another denial, that is far deeper ingrained in society and culture (esp. the US-American), that violence and violent crimes are symptoms of a society and culture that is based on oppression. A free society you think you have? Yes, if you can afford it. But for many, this system already fails. Those overlooked portion of the population has no vote, because they have learned that they don’t count.

    Immigrants, illegals, (working) poor people, children — all those who do not get the respect they deserve from their dignity of men, never were treated according to their potential, but are handled as a nuisance. They are often never given the chance to grow, but suffer from injustice and discrimination. And this is the medium, where violence and psychotic behaviour is spawned.

    Nobody can tell me, that those Columbine killers unforeseeable someday simply went ballistic. Why are the Americans the only people that think that a shooting range is a good place to teach children anything? The virtues of life, growth, potential and mutual well-being that are essential for a flourishing nation are not taught there. Why are there too many Americans without health insurance [4] although the US are ridiculously rich, why are so many bowling alone [6], why do they
    try to solve their problems by putting a significant part of the population into jail [5]?

    But fear, Hollywood and advertising hold this nations population in their dirty, blood-stained hands [3]; I cannot accuse them. They are victims, too. But who is in charge? Who is really in charge?

    Any mistakes in grammar and orthography may be a result of my disconcertment while writing this.

    [1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066999/quotes
    [2] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7153975.stm
    [3] http://www.amazon.com/Propaganda-Control-Public-Mind-Chomsky/dp/1873176686
    [4] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7682978.stm
    [5] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1242368.stm
    [6] http://www.bowlingalone.com/
    [8] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/quotes
    [9] http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=483

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