Subject:Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs - Good explanation of a Warrior
This letter was written by Charles Grennel and
his comrades who are 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,
January of 2005.
It was written to Jill Edwards, a student at the
University of Washington who did not want to honor Medal of
Honor winner USMC Colonel Greg ‘Pappy’ Boyington.
Ms. Edwards and other students (and faculty) do
not think those who serve in the U.S. armed services are good
To: Edwards, Jill (student, UW)
Subject: Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
Miss Edwards, I read of your "student activity" regarding the
proposed memorial to Col. Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of
Honor winner. I suspect you will receive a bellyful of angry
e-mails from conservative folks like me.
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 who are not capable of hurting each other, except by
accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
Then there are the wolves 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 his 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 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 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 kids' schools. But many of them
are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in
their kid's school. 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, and so they chose the path of
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, can not 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." Until the wolf
shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind
one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big,
tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances
they 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 be. 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 destroys 98 percent of the population.
There was research 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 that
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 itself. 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.
"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all
possible evil of evil men."
- Edmund Burke.
Here is the point I like 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 didn'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 sheep dog 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 seriously.
It's ok to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheep dog. 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. We 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 thousands - - millions - - of American
sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.