Nobody wants to be a sheep. It is one of the most pungent accusations we can hurl at our enemies. A sheep is mindless, following without any purpose, surety, or attention. They do not weigh or consider. They are not involved. They are being used, manipulated.
It is a weakness. And we do not want to be perceived as weak.
And so, in order to make sure we are not sheep, many of us turn ourselves into wolves. Aggressive. In control. Dominant. Alone. We learn how to fight and claw. Trusting our instincts alone.
These two narratives, either weak/helpless or powerful/violent, swirl within us. We try to make sure we are taking control. Or, too worried about being assertive, we shrink back into the sheep posture.
The World As It Is
The reality is, most people are sheep. It is just easier. Someone else can do the thinking for you. The conventional narratives are easy to swallow. The suggestive advertisements are so full of promises.
We tend to view the wolves as “leaders” in our world. They seem so confident, so sure of themselves. But it is precisely this type of creature that can be most dangerous.
The trouble with where we are as a human race is that we see our lives largely in these two dichotomies. You can be one or the other. It justifies positivity and aggression. We so often measure ourselves by what we might be otherwise, casually ignoring the truths of what we are.
There are other options. Life is not just a world of wolves and sheep. There are birds and butterflies. And shepherds.
The shepherd takes the best of both wolf and sheep. It is meek, quiet, and kind. But also powerful, influential.
The difference between a wolf and a shepherd is that a wolf controls by fear and demand, whereas a shepherd guides by influence and character-built-on-trust.
The difference between a sheep and a shepherd is that a shepherd has a view, a purpose. They are an agent of activity, not a passive entity.
Our world needs more shepherds. We need people to first be trustworthy and kind. To steward their own character. To be active agents in their own lives. And then to influence, to lead, to guide out of that character. To impact the world around them.
We need people of action who are not so frightened by what they might be otherwise that they miss the danger of where they are now.
All of this is a neat little analogy, but is much harder to live out than it is to type out. Even to assess whether we are, generally speaking, postured as sheep, wolves, or shepherds is not as easy to discern as it sounds. We are full of self-deception and self-justification. A world of contradictions within ourselves.
But we need to do better. The world needs us to do better. Our own lives, our private journeys, depend on our ability to do better.