Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
(Note from Mel ---
I can't confirm the author of this message but hope that the meaning of the
message is meaningful to my family. That is why I added this to my "Faith"
This letter was written by Charles Grennel and his comrades, veterans of the
Global War On Terror. Grennel is an Army Reservist who spent two years in Iraq
and was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections in January
2005. It was written to Jill Edwards, student at the University of Washington,
who did not want to honor Medal of Honor winner USMC Colonel Greg Boyington.
Edwards and other students and faculty do not think those who serve in the U.S.
Armed Services are good role models.
Miss Edwards, I read of your student activity regarding the proposed memorial to
Colonel Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of Honor winner. I suspect you will
receive many angry emails from conservative people like I.
You may be too young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of
servicemen and servicewomen, on whose shoulders you and your fellow students
stand. I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your naiveté. It may be
that you are simply a sheep. There's no dishonor in being a sheep, as long as
you know and accept what you are.
William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24,
1997 said, "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle,
productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. 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, not capable of hurting
each other except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
Then there are the wolves who 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 and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and
confront the wolf. If you have no capacity for violence and you are a healthy
productive citizen, you are 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 uncharted path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness,
into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do
not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact
that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire
sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kid's schools. But many
of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their
Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously
injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the
possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm
their child is just too hard. So they choose the path of denial.
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. That is, until the wolf shows up, and then the entire flock tries
desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough, know-it-all
high school students, and under ordinary circumstances would not have had the
time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing
to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were
clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those
clinging, sobbing kids off of them.
This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the
door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard
on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about
their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Understand that there is
nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to
Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter. He is always sniffing around
out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the
night and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn
for a righteous battle.. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but
they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the
wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most
citizens in America said "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The
sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of
those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." You want to be able to make
a difference. There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior,
but he does have one real advantage.. Only one. And that is that he is able to
survive and thrive in an environment that would destroy 98 percent of the
Research was conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent
crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence:
assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said
they specifically targeted victims by body language: Slumped walk, passive
behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in
Africa , when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed
to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one
they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing
to become sheepdogs.
Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in
his hometown of Cranbury , New Jersey Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight
93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from
United Airlines about the hijacking. When they learned of the other three
passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers
confronted the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among
the passengers - athletes, business people and parents - from sheep to sheepdogs
and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of
lives on the ground.
Edmund Burke said "There is no safety for honest men except by believing all
possible evil of evil men." Here is the point I want to emphasize, especially to
the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature
the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so
are wolves. They don'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.
If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you
must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones
are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you.
If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt
you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to
be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and
moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in
that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is
not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum.
On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the
ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of
us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step
up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting
and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more
Its OK to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheepdog. Indeed, the sheepdog may
just run a little harder, strive to protect a little better and be fully
prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle and spirit with the sheep moving
from "baa" to "thanks".
We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot. Just like the sheepdog, we
in the military just need a small pat on the head, a smile and a thank you to
fill the emotional tank which is drained protecting the sheep.
And, when our number is called by The Almighty, and day retreats into night, a
small prayer before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting
you continue to be a sheep. And be grateful for the millions of American
sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.