Wednesday, July 11, 2012

He's a Sheepdog

One of my co-workers is retired Army. He and his wife have been a wealth of information as we go through the process of entering the military. It is encouraging that he is retired, therefore he made it the entire 20 year career with (I think) five deployments and has survived (always a plus), maintained his family relationships, and is a strong Christian.

He gave me an excerpt to read about being a military man. I mentioned that I want to teach our children that Daddy "protects good guys", not that he "fights bad guys". I figure difficulty would arise with who exactly the bad guys are- I don't want my kids to racially profile since you can't explain adequately the differences between an ethinic individual and an extremist to a 3-year-old. There also is a difference between men that kill to take life and men that kill to preserve life.This excerpt explains that idea well. It comes from the book On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman with Loren W. Christensen, which I plan to purchase.

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?
~William J. Bennett, In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy, November, 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired Colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus 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. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside is is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. 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.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put in, "We intimidate those who intimidate others."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath- a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

I admit, now that we are a-go for the military my heart has faltered. Up until this point I have been 100% on board, 100% supportive. While I will always remain 100% supportive of my husband in this new life we have chosen... the fear has already begun to rise. I cannot watch military movies any longer. I have to stop myself from thinking about his future deployments when he will be in harms way. I have to focus on this moment- we are not to the deployment point yet. I have to focus on God's calling in our life. We know we are called to minister to other families in the military. We know that God will protect and preserve our family. We know that we will die when the number of breaths that God has given us are spent. Whether that be in Afghanistan or snuggled in bed in Lynchburg, God knows the number of days in our lives. I can take hope in that. I can keep faith in that.

Not to say it will always be easy.