Many of us have recently seen the movie that just came out called American Sniper. Of course, being married to a SWAT sniper, my husband and I were really excited to see it as well. I must say that the movie was outstanding and boy did it tug at my heartstrings since I could relate in many ways to things that were portrayed in the movie. However, one of the things that has continued to float in my head is the story of sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs that they touch on in the movie.
The following is an excerpt from On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs by Dave Grossman
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me:
“Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle,
productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” This is
true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the
aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is
that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one
another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of
violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an
all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million
Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime
is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year.
Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat
offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less
than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the
situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but
violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are
kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by
accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
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.”
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
If you find yourself with the sheep…please hang with the sheepdogs!
Being the wife of a police officer I have heard this story many times before seeing it played out in this movie, but it is so true of the world we live in today. For me, it is tiresome to constantly hear all the cop bashing on the news, in social media, and even from people I come in contact with every day. When did our society turn our police officers... the men and women that put their lives on the line for you and me everyday... into the enemy?? When will our society lift up the sheepdogs instead of the wolves? All I know is how incredibly thankful I am for the sheepdog in my life!