Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sheepdog or porcupine? Or both?

You may have heard of the Sheep, Sheepdog,  and Wolf classifications of people from Lt.Col. David Grossman. In it, he likens most people to sheep, with the predators of society being the wolves, and, obviously, the sheepdogs who watch out for the sheep. From his essay:

. . . there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep. . . I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. . . 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. . .
I heard a gentleman call in to Tom Gresham's Guntalk several years ago who likened himself to a porcupine. Note that the porcupine never bothers anyone. He just goes about his business, but, if attacked, he asks permission from no one, he just employs his natural weapons and defends himself.

Wise defensive instructors will caution you to be careful about interjecting yourself into someone else's problem. You don't always know the whole story, and could be attempting to help the wrong person. The pensive porcupine in me views that as good advice.

But . . . .

Sometimes a situation arises where  the sheepdog emerges from beneath the quills. Here's a situation I experienced recently -

I was going to an office supply store with a return. I got out of my car with my package in tow, and was, I hate to admit, in condition White. I looked over to my left, and saw a person who apparently had all his worldly goods in his shouldered backpack. Obviously hoping I was a mark, he started this story about having slept only three hours, or whatever. Now, somewhere between condition Yellow and condition Orange, I gave him my steely eyed look, and proceeded toward the store.

As I started moving, I realized that he was approaching a lady who was loading her purchases into the back end of her vehicle. I was probably twenty to thirty yards away at this time. I stopped. My alert level was now up at least to a light Orange. Although out of earshot, it appeared that he was giving her a sob story, too.

I slowly began to move toward the two of them. Then I heard a voice from an SUV that had stopped by me. Not understanding what I had heard, I turned in that direction, with a quizzical look on my face. The lady in the car restated her question, "Are you watching them?"

"Yes," I replied.

After saying, "Good," she went on.

The person of concern turned and walked toward the street; the lady turned toward me; I gave her a thumbs-up sign and went on into the store. As I was taking care of my business, she came into the store with her buggy, and walked over and thanked me.

I grinned, handed her my card, and said, "You should carry a gun."

She said her husband had told her that, too.

The sheepdog carefully picked up his quill coat, put it on, and went on about the business of life.

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