Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sheepdog-02

“Sheepdog” is a curious term, but apt once one knows its context. Reginald started calling Ken by that term after he read a pair of books by one Lt. Colonel David Grossman, books recommended to him by former colleagues of his that he met during his time at West Point. Reginald recognized that Ken was an unusually strong expression of that personality type, a sort of extreme altruist one otherwise will not encounter outside of the realms of fiction, someone so compelled to intervene that they could not operate in normal society for long or very well.

The predators of the world, as related by Grossman, are described as “wolves”. The common people at large are “sheep” and the few capable of beating the wolves are the sheepdogs. Reginald, like Grossman, made no moral judgments in assessing one as a sheep or another as a sheepdog- only those he labeled as “wolves” felt any moral disapproval, and then only because Reginald did not think himself to be one. Nor did he think himself a sheepdog, despite his own military experience, but merely a more worldly and capable sheep- “I am but a Ram.” The world needs the peaceful, decent sheep because they make all the rest go ‘round; the sheepdogs exist to guard the sheep from the wolves, who prey upon the sheep because the sheep are weak and meek by comparison and thus easy prey, yet those same sheep are often ill at-ease with their sheepdogs and sometimes foolishly abuse them because the wolves and the sheepdogs are too much alike for the comfort of the sheep.

Ken, on the other hand, has a far less nuanced view. Never reading Grossman, Ken saw things much as he did as a child: there are good people and bad people, and there are weak people and strong people. Those who are strong and good hunt and kill the bad people while protecting the good people, and they push the weak good people to become strong while remaining good. Bad people do all sorts of lying, cheating and other scamming to keep out of sight until they strike so he’s got to stay sharp and on the alert at all times because he’s one of the strong good people and he goes where he’s got to go to put the bad people down- and down for good. Ken is a killer, and he has no qualms with who he’s killed or why he killed them. Laws don’t matter to him. Borders, countries, customs- all irrelevant to him. He goes where he’s needed, gets the job done, and then takes his leave before he wears out his welcome.

Together, Ken and Reginald have a certain understanding that lets them respect each other as equals despite very different perspectives and attitudes about things. It’s this common ground that lets their unorthodox arrangement work, an arrangement that keeps Kathy happy, fulfilled and satisfied- and in turn does so for them.

So, beer in hand, Ken accepted his welcome warmly. “Another monster slain.” Ken said, smiling.

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