Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Recently a question arose as to my reference to "Sheepdogs" Explanation follows:
ONLY the comments at the end are mine. The Colonels observations on sheep, wolves and sheepdogs express my feelings very well. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion and I respect that. However, the truth will always be the truth........

On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

By LTC (RET) Dave Grossman
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 it 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."

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? What do you have then? 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

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population. There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- From sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...


This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

.........................................My comments:.............................................
In a later post I will share my thoughts on the role of Christ and the Christian in the scheme of Sheep, Sheepdogs and Wolves...................
Believe it or not, like it or not these are MY thoughts and feelings.

Sunday, November 4, 2012



"Sailing Alone, With No One"

“Weigh anchor.” He calls to no one and turns the capstan himself.  First taking up the slack and then feeling the anchor let go of the bottom and start the journey upward to its proper home.  Once secured, he realizes that he is singing “Anchors Aweigh” and acting the fool.  It is not unusual for him to talk to himself and even reply, as he often is the only company he has for a week or two at a time.  Sailing alone is not how he would have it, but both his first mate and second mate are dead and the rest of his crew have deserted, jumped ship or went to sea with another Master.  So, he sails alone into the rising sun.

East.  Always East.  What is it that draws him ever to the East?  His native fresh water home, Lake Erie, is far behind him and the salty Atlantic Ocean is breaking over his bow and washing the thirty two foot deck of his home day after day.  The small uninhabited island that offered shelter thru the night falls astern as the morning wind fills his sails.

The breath of God provides the power to propel his ship and the sun gives him water to drink.  The sea itself offers him food from the set lines trailing aft.  Oh, he has food and drink enough for several weeks at sea; he just likes living off the land where there is no land.  He enjoys the experience of each day’s provision coming as it were directly from God’s hand.  The closeness he shares with God’s creation is more special to him every day.

Even now the charcoal brazier on the stern rail is cooking the sea bass he caught early this morning and the smell of coffee rises from below deck.  The last of the fresh bread will complete his mid day meal.  Even the five thousand that Jesus fed with bread and fish did not have strong black coffee.  He is truly blessed.

With such a steady and gentle wind from the West and the wheel dogged the day passes quickly and it is time for the Captains Log and then to sleep in his hammock on deck.  The stars are so bright in the night sky at sea and even the gibbon moon shines across the water like a path to the stars.  His bed moves to the motion of the ocean.  Roll, pitch and yaw combine to move in a way that is natural only to the seaman.  Sleep comes softly and the sounds of the wind in the rigging the gentle slap of the sea against the hull and the creak of the ship herself adapting to the various stresses of sail combine to make a lullaby for him.

BRAAAAK!!                         BRAAAAK!!                         B R A A A A A A K ! ! ! ! !

He is fully awake before his feet hit the deck running aft toward the wheel.  Intuitively he knows that the next few minutes are those of LIFE or DEATH for him and his ship.  Far from the shipping lanes and with modern radar on the big ships the chances of a collision with another ship is remote and yet bearing down on him is one thousand feet of containerized cargo ship that would run over his and not even feel it.  High and wide in the water it will not be able to alter course at this late time.  Had the lookout been paying attention and the radar set for distance maybe this would have been avoided.  No time to play what if.  So close that the light of the moon is blotted out she looms like the hand of doom over his tiny craft.

As he spins the wheel to starboard he prays that the other vessel does the same.  Having the right of way does not matter at a time like this.  Even if they do not collide, the bow wake and prop wash will try his seamanship and his boats seaworthiness.  His craft is responding smartly to her helm and is already changing course.   The behemoth towering over him will be well past his position before responding to her telegraphs call. The wake from her bow is already pushing him hard to port and causing an upset of his center of balance. As he passes her stern the prop wash combines to push him past 50 degrees.  His mind notes the inclinometer approaching the 60 degree point of no recovery.  Spinning the wheel, this time to port, he prays that the ruder will find purchase in the turbulence and he waits as that is all that is left for him to do.

Then, as if God himself had reached down and touched the top of the mast to set it right, her roll slows, stops and reverses.  Coming over the top and stopping at 45 degrees and the next roll more like 30 degrees and they were past the danger.

Less than ten minutes had passed and yet it was a lifetime.  Thanking God for his and his ships safety he dogs the wheel and goes below to log the event, noting the time, location and the name of the ship that had so nearly sent him to the deep.

“Wonder if there is any coffee left?” he says to no one.

Jim huff©



“Ok” he said, as he packed his kit.  “I tried”.  He had extended an olive branch toward the little dove, hoping that she would light upon it and spend some time with him.  But, she only made several passes with hardly a glance at the peace offering he held forth.  Then, without a backward glance, she flew away.  It had been pleasant, no it had been peaceful, watching her wings beating the sun warmed air and cavorting in the gentle breeze.  “Memories” thinking out loud “at least I have memories of what might have been.” 
Slipping his pack onto his back and picking up his walking stick he turned toward the path that led from the quiet meadow to the forest and away from the sun kissed flowers of the spring.  Stepping more lightly than his heart felt he walked into the shadows of the trees and continued his journey to a place far distant. 
Occasionally someone would walk with him for a time, but they had their own destinations and soon their paths would part.  “Memories” he said again “at least I have memories of what time we shared.”  The trail was free of rocks and holes and rose gently toward a stand of Maple that was in its brightest green with the new leaves of spring.  As he approached the sound of laughter drifted to him on the warm wind rustling branches overhead.  “Could it be the music of the fae?” he actually spoke the words out loud and laughed to find he was talking to himself again.  The last time he encountered the wee people of the woods had been recorded in the ballad he wrote to remember the occasion for posterity.

I found myself upon a path within the wood
Less traveled this and yet I knew and understood
This was the way I was to go

The forest dark and dim within beckoned to me
The path was faint and overgrown most hard to see
This was the way I was to go

Step over step I made my way slowly forward
Quiet, silent, disturbing none, ever onward
This was the way I was to go

A light ahead, faintly glowing, a fairy ring
Wee folk dancing, the ancient song I heard her sing
This is the way for you to go

Beautiful she I can't describe So innocent
So pure and clean and much alive I stared intent
Knowing this way was mine to go

With open arms they welcomed me and taught me songs
Of peace and joy and happiness forgetting wrongs
This was the way I longed to go

We smoked a pipe and drank a toast, though different "kinds"
We shared a dream of hope and love in all our minds
This was the way that I should go

I woke alone, the forest still, with nothing there
I know, am sure, twas not a dream, and witness bear
This was the way that I would go

And you may come, along with me, this path to walk
To love and laugh, forgiving all their unthought talk
This is the way for us to go

It was his song.  They were singing his song.  It would be many hours till he slept.  For this night he would be among friends and share a time of fellowship with those who loved what he loved, valued like him and lived each and every minute of their lives.  He was just where he belonged for this moment of time and he was at peace.
NOT the end

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wisdom of Your Father

HUFF Family:

Identifying with the Lenni-Lenape (Lenni Lenape means "Human Beings" or the "Real People" in the Unami language), often called Delawares by the English, we are of the Turtle Clan and thus our "totem" would be the turtle. 

The turtle is one of natures most interesting creatures being of both water and land. Because of it's great age and slow metabolism the turtle is associated with 
longevity. the turtle can teach us new perceptions of time and for us to slow down and live in harmony with our environment.

Carrying it's home on it's back, the turtle teaches us to minimize possessions keeping only those things that are needful to living. The turtle has amazing survival skills and is attuned to the "vibrations" of it's surroundings and adapts accordingly. 

While his shell provides protection and security, it is needful that he reaches out of his shell in order to function in the world. Venture forth with confidence and stay alert to the dangers around you. This is the message of turtle and the wisdom of your father.

This is part of the legacy I leave you.  Consider and conduct yourself accordingly.

(An aside):  What you think of Karma and some facets of your life being "laid out" before you were ever conceived is of little consequence.  It is evident to me that there is a relationship to being of the turtle clan (of water and land) and being a Marine (of water and land) has always existed in my life.  I'm just saying.