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 who 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 five and one-half 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.