Sheep dog 2

"What goes on around you… compares little
with what goes on inside you."

— Ralph Waldo

Everyone has been given a gift in life. Some people
have a gift for science and some have a flair for art. And warriors have been
given the gift of aggression. They would no more misuse this gift than a doctor
would misuse his healing arts, but they yearn for the opportunity to use their
gift to help others. These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift
of aggression and a love for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our

One career police officer wrote to me about this
after attending one of my Bulletproof Mind training sessions:

"I want to say thank you for finally shedding some
light on why it is that I can do what I do. I always knew why I did it. I love
my [citizens], even the bad ones, and had a talent that I could return to my
community. I just couldn’t put my finger on why I could wade through the chaos,
the gore, the sadness, if given a chance try to make it all better, and walk
right out the other side."

Let me expand on this old soldier’s excellent model
of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. 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 dozens of times more
likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured,
by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep’s only response to the
possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm
their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.

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, cannot 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. As Kipling said in his poem about “Tommy” the British soldier:

While it's Tommy
this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk
in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the
wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in
front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

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? Remember how many times you heard
the word hero?

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.” When you are truly
transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood,
you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

While there is nothing morally superior about the
sheepdog, the warrior, he does have one real advantage. Only one. He is able to
survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the

There was research conducted a few years ago with
individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious,
predatory acts 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.

However, when there were cues given by potential
victims that indicated they would not go easily, the cons said that they would
walk away. If the cons sensed that the target was a "counter-predator," that is,
a sheepdog, they would leave him alone unless there was no other choice but to

One police officer told me that he rode a commuter
train to work each day. One day, as was his usual, he was standing in the
crowded car, dressed in blue jeans, T-shirt and jacket, holding onto a pole and
reading a paperback. At one of the stops, two street toughs boarded, shouting
and cursing and doing every obnoxious thing possible to intimidate the other
riders. The officer continued to read his book, though he kept a watchful eye on
the two punks as they strolled along the aisle making comments to female
passengers, and banging shoulders with men as they passed.

As they approached the officer, he lowered his novel
and made eye contact with them. “You got a problem, man?” one of the
IQ-challenged punks asked. “You think you’re tough, or somethin’?” the other
asked, obviously offended that this one was not shirking away from

“As a matter of fact, I am tough,” the officer said,
calmly and with a steady gaze.

The two looked at him for a long moment, and then
without saying a word, turned and moved back down the aisle to continue their
taunting of the other passengers, the sheep.

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 he learned
of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped
his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a
signal to the other passengers to confront 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.

“Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live
with yourself after that?”

"here is no safety for honest men except by
believing all possible evil of evil men." 

— Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in

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.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in
church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or
inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to
some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police
officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such
an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to slaughter you
and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas,
and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in
church. The other cop replied, “I will never be caught without my gun in
church.” I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a
police officer he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas, in
1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and
opened fire, gunning down 14 people. He said that officer believed he could have
saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot,
and all he could do was throw himself on the boy’s body and wait to die. That
cop looked me in the eye and said, “Do you have any idea how hard it would be to
live with yourself after that?”

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this
police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and
would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would
call for “heads to roll” if they found out that the airbags in their cars were
defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids’
school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents
can happen and that there must be safeguards against them. Their only response
to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog
is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have any
idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked
and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared
for that day?”

The warrior must cleanse denial from his thinking.
Coach Bob Lindsey, a renowned law enforcement trainer, says that warriors must
practice “when/then” thinking, not “if/when.” Instead of saying,“If it happens
then I will take action,” the warrior says, “When it happens then I will be

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are
psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which
is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror
when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your
moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun;
you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a
strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically
survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and
shame at your moment of truth.

Chuck Yeager, the famous test pilot and first man to
fly faster than the speed of sound, says that he knew he could die. There was no
denial for him. He did not allow himself the luxury of denial. This acceptance
of reality can cause fear, but it is a healthy, controlled fear that will keep
you alive:

"I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was
my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my
emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always
alert in the cockpit."

— Brigadier General Chuck Yeager, "Yeager, An

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his
superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to
come to terms with our current world situation:
"..denial can be seductive,
but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think
they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence
is all the more unsettling. Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract
written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows
the truth on some level."

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in
all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil

If you are a warrior who is legally authorized to
carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a
sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be “on” 24/7
for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a
weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this
to yourself… “Baa.”

This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog 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-grass 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. The degree to which you move up that continuum,
away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones
will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is an internationally
recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world's
foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and
violent crime. Col. Grossman is a West Point psychology professor, Professor of
Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become
the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which has been termed
“killology.” In this new field Col. Grossman has made revolutionary new
contributions to our understanding of killing in war, the psychological costs of
war, the root causes of the current "virus" of violent crime that is raging
around the world, and the process of healing the victims of violence, in war and


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