Why do we use clichés and stereotypes? Perhaps because they contain an element of truth. Among the warrior class in this society there is a clichéd story, started by LTC Dave Grossman, or at least popularized by him. The story relates how, to the sheep of society, both the wolf and the guard dog look very similar…hence their distrust and dislike of both. Both have sharp fangs and claws. Both run on four legs, have fur that helps them blend into the scenery and a killer instinct. But, there the similarity ends. The wolf makes his living preying off the weak and defenseless of society. He adds nothing to the societal discourse or civil society. He lives in the waste and hidden places, preferring to do his work at night, and to live for the moment, taking what he wants/needs and wasting the rest.
By contrast, the sheepdog devotes his life to the protection of the sheep. Sure, to keep them from straying into dangerous territory, wolf territory, he may nip at their heels, but his motive is always service. And, when the wolf pack comes, he will spend his life on the behalf of the sheep, asking nothing more than to lay his old carcass down, should he outlive his usefulness, beside the Herdsman’s fire.
Don’t bother trying to explain the sheepdog to the sheep. Rarely will he understand, and if he does he will still resent the necessity. A few, the Rams, have their own defense, and will understand to an extent the instincts of the sheepdog. But they will not have shared experiences to bond them, and so even where there is sympathy, there is no true understanding.
Where can the old sheepdog go, then, for understanding? Perhaps it has always been a lonely calling. For those who truly share it, there aren’t a lot of other options.