I’m reading a book by ex-SEAL commander Mark Divine called Unbeatable Mind. It’s a self-help styled book about personal growth and mastery, chock full of techniques for leadership and how to make yourself a more effective person.
One section particularly struck a chord as I have been working a theory about political philosophy that emphasizes personal responsibility as a means to limited government. Coach Divine talks about sheep as a metaphor. A flock of sheep will be grazing in a field, going about their business as if nothing else in the world impacts their existence. Meanwhile, the wolves spend all their time trying to find ways to scheme their way onto the plateau to harm (aka eat) the sheep. Up above watching over the defenseless sheep is the sheepdog, who pounces on the wolves if they get too close or pose too serious a danger. They exist to protect the flock of sheep.
The sheep are ordinary citizens, the wolves are terrorists or general bad guys, and the sheepdogs are the military or other first-responders and righteous citizens. Coach Divine’s SEALFit program is all about building people up to be the future sheepdogs. Many participants are pre-SOF candidates or like me, just looking for a full mind/body philosophy to train me to be the best person and leader I can be.
There is a section on training to be “sheepdog strong” that really got me thinking about the general populace’s perspective on protection. Coach talks a lot about what sheepdogs need to do to be prepared to protect others and what it takes to have that level of commitment and focus on the task. But I question why the sheep don’t care about their own security?
I read a tweet the other day something like, “I know the biology of the frog we dissected at school but nothing about how a mortgage works”. It struck me as poignant that in many cases we really are teaching the wrong things to kids. And if we take this life-skills question one step further, why do we not teach personal awareness and security?
Many of the simple strategies for developing sheepdog awareness can be taught to anyone. And why not? Sweeping your eyes around a restaurant, looking for the egress routes, identifying choke points and vulnerabilities, scanning for threats, being vigilant in crowded public places, etc.
These are all strategies that could be taught. Taught to adults and to children. They could be ingrained at a younger age with the notion that protecting yourself and your fellow citizens is both a virtue and a responsibility.
More importantly, as we watch the wolves and we see them strategizing against not only the sheep, but also the sheepdog, then we should recognize a need for change. It is impossible to dedicate requisite numbers of sheepdogs to protect us against a crafty and more formidable pack of wolves. The liberal mentality that we can always rely on the sheepdog is a fallacy. That world is gone. The sheep need to be their own sheepdog. This requires getting off their asses and taking it seriously. Even if you can’t be a professional sheepdog, you can train to be sheepdog strong. You owe it to society, you owe it to yourself.