By Jack Kerwick – June 20, 2018
There are Wolves, there are Sheep, and then there are Sheepdogs.
Wolves prey on the outnumbered, the weak, the unsuspecting, the vulnerable—i.e., whether the Sheep or, in a not infrequent number of cases, other Wolves who have fallen out of favor with the pack.
Wolves lack courage. They lack honor. And Wolves care only about satisfying their own greed.
Though they are typically presented as being polar opposites, Wolves and Sheep actually share some character traits in common. Sheep, too, tend not to be particularly courageous. While they are not necessarily mean-spirited or even selfish, and while Sheep can be gentle and compassionate, since they value their own safety more than anything else, Sheep are prone to conform their speech and conduct to that of the herd. They are prone to “obey orders.”
Thus, like Adolph Eichmann, to whom the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt ascribed a “curious, but quite authentic, inability to think,” Sheep too are devoid of original thought, preferring instead to trade in the banalities of whatever clichés and conventionalities happen to be in vogue at the moment.
Like Eichmann, Sheep “obey orders.” Only in the case of Sheep, the orders constitute the Zeitgeist of the majority, or what is felt to be the majority.
In the case of our contemporary political situation, the Spirit of the Times is what is usually called “Political Correctness.”
The Sheep, even when they suspect that PC notions are wrongheaded, will not dare to say so aloud. Sheep, after all, are not daring. And, so, PC is permitted to prevail.
The Wolves, however, are the self-appointed guardians of the PC orthodoxy, its watchdogs. The Wolves, forever salivating over the prospects of fresh blood, spare no occasion to search out deviations from their creed so as to administer as humiliating and agonizing a punishment for the heterodox as possible.
To repeat the foregoing point, Wolves and Sheep are quite similar in many respects. Wolves run in packs because, though they will never admit it, not too far beneath the surface they are terribly afraid of being devoured by their own. Wolves lack the self-discipline to act rightly, for righteousness often demands that one stand against the will of the Mob, the Pack or Herd.
Wolves and Sheep are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps we need to add another character-type to this three-old taxonomy: There are Wolves, Sheep, Sheepdogs, and…Sheep-Wolves or Wolf-Sheep.
The Sheepdog, though, is of a different breed altogether. The Sheepdog, like the Sheep, dreads trouble. He hates violence, and aims to avoid it at virtually all costs. But unlike the Sheep, he doesn’t hate it because he fears for his own safety alone. Like the Wolf, the Sheepdog is willing to engage in violence, but unlike the Wolf, the Sheepdog will use violence if and only if it is necessary for the sake of preventing harm to innocents, whether himself or, crucially, others.
In the Sheepdog there is no arrogance. The Sheepdog is not given to trash-talking. His training involves the cultivation of, not just physical prowess but, what is arguably even more important, “situational awareness,” i.e. the ability to diffuse potentially violent situations before they occur.
In the world of contemporary American politics, one can distinguish the Wolves and Sheep from the Sheepdogs. It’s also all too easy to see how the Wolves and Sheep are more like one another than either is similar to the Sheepdog: Wolves select their prey and then intimidate the Sheep into joining the attack. The Sheep, of course, though conspicuously unenthusiastic—Sheep tend to lack enthusiasm about virtually everything—are nevertheless all too ready to pile on those who the Wolves have already maimed. The target, after all, poses no threat at this point.
The Sheepdog, however, despises injustice. He despises alike bullies and those who never tire of ingratiating themselves to bullies. His instinct is to protect those upon whom the Wolves and their Sheep pummel, whether he likes or agrees with their prey or not, for these predatory attacks, lacking as they do all proportionality and honor, are unseemly.