Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sheep, Sheepdogs and Wolves

I was recently forwarded an email about sheep, sheepdogs and wolves. The central theme was that the majority of people where sheep, who need sheep dogs to protect them from wolves. The author was making a point about honoring veterans and other military and police people. I didn't have a comment on that. If you want to read the essay, you can find it here.

I did, however, start to think about the imagery of sheep. It occurs to me that sheep get a bad rap. A wild sheep is a noble and dangerous beast in it's own right. Take this bit from the wikipedia entry on sheep:

"Wild sheep have very keen senses of sight and hearing. When detecting predators wild sheep most often flee, usually uphill to higher ground. However they can also fight back. The Dall sheep has been known to butt wolves off the face of cliffs."
- Wikipedia

The domestic sheep is bred for docility. They fare worse than their wild counterparts against predators. And when domestic sheep are set free, they quickly become more like their wild counterparts. It seems that it is the presence of the shepherd that makes sheep weak. And this is unsurprising, as shepherds only keep sheep for fleecing and food, a terribly apt metaphor in my mind. Come to think of it, if a shepherd is bad for the sheep, then a sheepdog is an agent of control to keep sheep in line against their own good.

I fault this author for one other thing. He claims that the 9/11 attackers were wolves. He is wrong. They were just sheep who followed another shepherd.

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