Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Got another comment this morning...

On a post from back in July. This post gets a disproportionate amount of attention, possibly because when you type "Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs" into a search engine it comes up on the first page.

This comment was less abusive than the last, which I appreciate very much. I think we may be overthinking the metaphor just a little, but it was a thoughtful comment and deserves a respectful reply.

Mutt....interesting addition to the analogy. I thought you might be an unemployeed sheepdog, since you definately aren't in denial with the other sheep, but you didn't even mention a family you would protect, like most hidden sheepdogs. I think you're just a low-level wolf, not dominant enought to initiate the aggression. or maybe you've been castrated by all the societal conditioning you mentioned. you need to ask yourself. what kind of life do you pursue? do you take advantage of others, the sheep, or do you work to improve others. or do you just provide a service. then you might be a mutt.

First of all, I am not now and never have been a member of the military or of any law enforcement agency whatever. I do not wish to be herded, and I really wish self-appointed "sheepdogs" would stop trying. Also, I reflexively dislike the "sheep" metaphor, though I don't deny that a massive proportion, possibly a majority, of "good, law-abiding citizens" fit the description of sheeplike caricatures appalled at the notion of employing violence in their own defense - I merely suggest that this is a function of nurture rather than nature. IOW, I suspect that the metaphor's "sheep" are created by the constant, womb-to-tomb drumbeat of "call 911 and wait for the nice police officer" rather than actually being born that way as the "sheepdog" apologists insist.

On the use of violence in self-defense - I have observed every sort of vertebrate creature with which I come in contact, from mice and rats through literal sheep, larger game animals, and up to every sort of predatory beast. Every Single One Of Them has this in common: As juveniles, they are weak, helpless, and dependent on others for survival. The mark of an adult creature is that it takes the responsibility of its own survival on itself. The tiniest adult mouse will turn and attack an attacker, given time. It may not - it probably won't - do so successfully, but it will do so. Because that's what adult creatures do.

All except humans. Humans in our culture, anyway. In our culture, it is demanded of us that we stand back from our own defense, "give them what they want," and plead to be defended by those designated by the State for such duty.

The facts that our "defenders" do a piss-poor job of it, that they cost far more than they contribute, that they are minions of a despicable predatory State, and that they have a dreadful habit of turning predator themselves actually have very little to do with my objection to the concept. Those are really just side issues. My principal objection to the concept is that it is insulting. It is infantilizing. It is unnatural and destructive. Whether or not humans are some higher form of beast is a religious question I'm unequipped to hold an opinion on, but we are most certainly beasts. We have flesh and bone and beating hearts as they do. And while our teeth and claws may be inferior to the least of theirs, our tool-making ability elevated us to the top of the chain long, long ago. We are beasts, with all the attributes of beasts and more besides, and yet we are conditioned from the cradle to believe - or at least to pretend to believe - that unless we are endowed at birth with some rare and mystical "warrior spirit" we are incompetent to even contemplate our own defense and sustenance.


What's worse, while that view works against the interests of every man and woman on the planet not in a position of authority, it very clearly serves the interests of one group alone - those who connive to positions of rulership over us. Every street cop, every bastard sheriff, every bureaucrat and politician and every loathsome, petty little tapeworm in any position of authority anywhere, those are the people whose interests we serve when we acquiesce to that world view - when we agree to sit back, do our jobs, pay our taxes and let the big boys do the thinking.

What has it brought us, this belief that these people are somehow more qualified to make decisions than we are? How many wars have we started? How many genocides have we committed? How many little old ladies have you tazed lately? They keep telling us all about how safe they're keeping us, but the reality is somewhat different. Look, I'm not the least bit afraid of the so-called "wolves" that are supposed to be such a threat, but the "sheepdogs" scare the hell out of me. If I beat off a robber, maybe causing him to become a bit leaky in the process, what's the next thing I have to fear? Not other robbers, no: Next the "sheepdogs" will want their piece of me. And if - may FSM forbid! - I should do the same to a "sheepdog" here to enforce some unwelcome edict of my distant masters, my life is guaranteed to be over in a most unpleasant way. Tell me again how this is an improvement? Explain to me, please, the benefit of having these people around at all! I really want to know!

Sorry - that wasn't supposed to be a rant. Dialing down now.

Look, the closest thing to a "perfect world" I can imagine wouldn't be terribly neat or tidy. It wouldn't be a utopia; I can't even imagine a utopia. There would be predators, and there would be prey. Sometimes the innocent weak would suffer unjustly. Sometimes the innocent strong would go too far, and cease to be innocent. That's human nature; we're messy creatures, not at all suited to utopia. But those who wished to live in peace would have the opportunity to enforce that peace themselves, and I doubt very much that they'd do a worse job of it than our self-proclaimed protectors do now. And even if they did, they still wouldn't have the capacity to spread misery on the unholy scale presently caused by our would-be masters, may their scrotums rot off.

JW, thank you for your comment. To summarize my answer: I am neither an "unemployed sheepdog" nor a "castrated wolf." I live my life quietly and as inoffensively as possible to those who do not molest my peace. I strive to be of benefit to my neighbors, and they both attest that I am a benefit and reciprocate in kind. I have no interest in either molesting or "improving" any other person. I wish only to live my life, enjoy my friends, and be left the hell alone by everyone else. Where and how, precisely, does this present a problem?

1 comment:

Cliff said...

Joel, I'm personally hoping to be the house cat in this analogy. You know the one that jumps down from the kitchen counter into the middle of the dog's, starts a ruckus and then jumps back up on the counter. While the fight continues below the cat proceeds to lick himself in a rude fashion and then goes off to be left alone. Realizing that the only value in the argument was the fun of cranking up the dog's in the first place. But now that that's over with it's time to do his own thing.