Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sheep, Wolves, and Snipers

Over the last two weekends, I’ve seen two great films -- Unbroken and American Sniper.  Regarding WWII and Unbroken, I am grateful for those men that took up arms in defense of our nation and our way of life.  Admiral Chester Nimitz, describing the courage displayed by US Marines on the island of Iwo Jima declared, “uncommon valor was a common virtue."  What a tremendous testimony to the tenacity of those men.  They were one of the Greatest Generations. 
Turn now to the current war, formerly known as the Global War on Terror by our last real leader, and referred to now as an overseas contingency operation, or workplace violence (if you are killed by a terrorist at Fort Hood), by our current  president.  Regardless of what it’s called, another generation of the greatest Americans, guys like Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry, and Sergeant Dakota Meyer, to name just a few, have risen up to follow in their forefather’s  footsteps.   

Another one of the post-9-11 generation heroes is Chris Kyle, the American Sniper. A scene in the film depicted young Chris at the family dinner table.  His brother had been involved in a bullying incident at school that day.  Their father tells his two young sons an allegory about prey, predators, and protectors.  “There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs,” their Dad starts. “Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep.”    

He goes on with the lesson, “Then you’ve got predators -- who use violence to prey on the weak. They’re the wolves. And then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed who lives to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdogs.”   

While the movie reminds us Chris Kyle was clearly a sheepdog extraordinaire, it also portrays him as a man who bore the emotional scars of traumatic stress and the attendant challenges of reintegrating into civility and home life.   Virtually every veteran of Enduring and Iraqi Freedom could relate to the great degree of difficulty in readjusting from a protracted state of hyper vigilance to a land of the free and the home of the over indulgent.  A nation of seemingly indifferent and unconcerned; in spite of the occasional “thanks for your service” – ostensibly oblivious to the ongoing dangers still being faced by their brothers that they have left behind in theater.    Whether this allegory was actually shared by Mr. Kyle with his sons is immaterial – the lesson was learned and Chris lived it out accordingly.  

The allegory of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs was made popular by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Tom Grossman, in his 2008 book, “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. In it he recounts where he got the allegory, “One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: ‘Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident….’”  Grossman concludes, “Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "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 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," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." 

This reminded me of what Jesus said 2,000 years earlier, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  You can see that Jesus said there is an enemy that even a sniper’s scope cannot discern.  He said there is a ravenous wolf that dresses like a sheep, which can only be recognized by the fruit they produce.

My hunch on what the fruit of that sheep-dressed wolf might sound like if he were speaking at a prayer breakfast:

“ISIS, you’ve been busy beheading and burning hostages, raping and maiming, don’t worry, you’re in good company – after all those crappy Christians did it too.”   


Anonymous said...

I'm with the sheepdogs.

Reg T said...

There are wolves, and there are wolves: some have the courage - along with their evil intentions - to work their ill alone.

Then there are the cowardly wolves, who would never strike out if they weren't surrounded by the group - or by the might of the army of thugs at their beck and call.

Can you imagine the Pansey-in-Chief standing alone?

Tim Turner said...

". . . a land of the free and the home of the over indulgent. "

Absolutely perfect description. And I'm guilty, too. said...

Me too Tim - the things of this world often drag me away from the far more important/eternal. Worse, I all too often go willingly. Here is a very interesting commentary by a brilliant apologist:

Toastrider said...

Wolf? You do President Zero too much credit, sir.

He's a coyote, and a cowardly one at that.