When I was growing up my father used to say there were two kinds of people in this world. When I would ask him “What time is it?” he would say “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who ask what time it is and those who wear watches.” He had so many variations on the theme that I eventually decided there really were two kinds of people in this world: Those who dichotomize and those who do not.
But, later, with the help of Lt. Col. David Grossman, I decided there are three kinds of people in this world: Sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.
The sheep form the largest segment of our society. According to Grossman, these are the people who are living in a constant state of denial. They are generally incapable of doing violence to another person and largely unaware of the existence of evil in this world – the true evil which is, thankfully, confined to a minority of the population.
The classic sheep mentality was demonstrated to me on September 12, 2001, which was, of course, the day after the worst terrorist attack in this country’s history – though certainly not the worst we will see in the coming years.
This sheep – unsurprisingly one with a PhD in the so-called “social sciences” – approached me with a request: “Hey, Mike, is there any chance you have a spare gun I could borrow for awhile?” To understand the significance of this quote one has to know something about the sheep that uttered it; namely, that he was adamantly anti-military and anti-gun on September 10, 2001.
However, in the first few hours (maybe few dozen hours) after 911 the sheep panicked. He was worried that the transportation system and banking system would be shut down indefinitely. And he knew there were crack and heroin addicts living in the vicinity of his neighborhood.
But when order was restored in this country – admittedly, faster than both he and I expected – he calmed back down. He hasn’t put a hand on a weapon in the nearly sixteen years since our conversation. He is back in a state of denial where he feels most comfortable.
But there are others among us who are fully aware of the existence of another class of persons we will call the “wolves.” These people are sociopaths who prey upon the sheep and wish to do them evil. My awareness of the existence of these people led to another noteworthy conversation on the evening of August 31st, 2001.
Shortly after purchasing a new car, I stopped by Wal-Mart to get some cleaning accessories and, as usual, picked up a few hundred rounds of ammunition. My girlfriend was waiting for me at the condo and spoke to me as I stored the ammo in my gun safe – the only one I had at the time. That was the first time she got a glimpse at my numerous weapons and the thousands of rounds of ammunition that accompany them.
“How many guns do you have?” she asked. I told her. “And how many thousands of rounds of ammunition do you have?” she then asked. I told her that, too – although you may rest assured that I wouldn’t tell the reader or the ATF, which, in my opinion, should be a convenience store and not a federal agency.
My girlfriend was so alarmed that later at dinner with her parents she mentioned our conversation. I don’t know whether she told them about how I warned her of the existence of the Islamic wolves who would some day release an atomic device in our country in the name of Islam. Nor do I know whether she told them about the domestic wolves I also warned her about. These are the folks whose withdrawal from addictive drugs in the wake of the chaos following a nuclear explosion would lead them to prey upon the sheep not prepared with gun safes that look a lot like mine.
But I do know that she apologized the following month. When the second tower fell, she knew who was responsible. She knew I was not just crying “wolf.” More importantly, she realized that I was a member of the third class of people: the sheepdogs.
Sheepdogs, unlike sheep, are fully prepared to kill other human beings. But, unlike the wolves, they do so in order to protect those whom they love – who, for the most part, are unable to fend for themselves. Their willingness to kill is a function of their love for their fellow citizens.
There are many people who find it odd that I shoot firearms on an almost daily basis with other sheepdogs including my good friend and occasional bodyguard. They would certainly find it odd that we compare notes over who fired the most shots through the same hole in the head of an Osama Bin Laden target. And, needless to say, they would certainly not understand why I kill literally hundreds of live animals per year (usually small varmints) in order to perfect my skills in hitting targets that actually move.
But the wolves are still out there and we do not know when they will attack. But they will. And, for most of you, the sheepdog is your best and only hope.