Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sheepdogs and Peacemakers

Some of you may remember a rather heated discussion on the F blogs that took place during the months leading up to last year's Presidential elections. It all began with this post, which triggered in me an emotion that I have been pondering now and again over the months since then. In the post, S quotes a talk by William Bennet (in a lecture to the U.S. Naval Academy, that he may have largely ripped off this guy) comparing Sheepdogs and Sheep. This analogy he uses to compare men who "have a capacity for violence and a deep love for your fellow citizens" (the sheepdogs) to average joe citizens who "live in denial...(and) do not want to believe that there is evil in the world." (sheep, obviously)

I took umbrage at the cut and dried nature of the two categories Bennett posed. Sheepdogs or sheep? That's it? The only two choices? You either carry a gun and actively work to hunt down bad guys and maintain justice, or else you're a sheep blindly following the crowd with no sense to prepare for the morrow?

This bothered me. It niggled deep in my psyche. It irritated, like a grain of sand in the toe of my shoe.

I understand Susi's reaction to the words of the speech and how they appealed to her pride in her husband's skills and calling and I cast no aspersions on her motives in sharing it with her readers. But due to the aforementioned sandy feeling in my shoe, felt the need to comment and object somewhat. The ensuing imbroglio went far afield from my original remarks and wandered deep into the territory of political discussion and, dare I say, even controversy and strife? I sighed and gave up attempts to explain my objections any further.

But there was still this grain of sand in the toe of my shoe. It itched. It's initials were W. B. I would have loved a chance to talk to him about his war record, to ask him whether he ever carried a gun. Has he ever stepped in to defend the helpless in a real, physical sense? His job seems pretty cushy to me. His health insurance is a lot better than ours, at the least.

What exactly was bothering me? I kept wondering... And then, a week or so ago, I had an epiphany.

Late one evening we heard yelling outside. The next-door-neighbor was having a loud argument with his adult son. The yelling and cussing escalated into fists and feet and as we watched from our porch the two hit the ground in a full-out brawl. The mom/wife screaming and trying to pull the two apart, the men hollering and spewing filth. I watched from the doorway, my heart in my throat, while Jeremiah ran over and just then, as he worked with words and his own body to break the men apart and keep the mom/wife from getting pulled into the fight, it hit me.

This was it.

This was what irritated me so much about Mr B's words. He was asserting through analogy, although perhaps not stating directly, that men like my husband, because he doesn't carry a gun, hasn't been to bootcamp and isn't A Warrior, therefore have no courage and are sheep, followers and need Protecting.

I beg to differ.

I have seen J so many, many times over the years in situations like this. Not usually physical ones, mind you, but situations where he puts himself between two people, or opposing groups and works with his mind, his heart and his words to make peace. He has a conviction that it is important to hear out the other man, to give him his say, to listen, to consider. He can see it from your point of view. He is willing to give a little. He is a Peacemaker.

Not that he doesn't have strong convictions. Oh no. Don't let me give you that impression. He is a man of ideals, for sure. But he has a very real sense of his humanity and is never afraid to admit that he might be wrong and you might be right. Is that not an excellent quality in a leader? What better way to inspire loyalty amongst your followers!

It is this kind of man that I want to see in leadership in our country. Men who think long and hard before sending the Warriors out to do their jobs. Men who are willing to talk and listen-- especially listen. Willing to see it from your point of view. Willing to give a little. Willing to admit when they are wrong and you are right. If there were more men like him in power, I think the Warriors would be better off. This kind of man isn't a Sheep! How ludicrous to say such a thing!

So this is what was bothering me. There really ought not to be such comparisons in the body of Christ. Because, according to Christ, we are ALL sheep, and He is the Shepherd. The Scriptures don't say anything about sheepdogs-- only different kinds of sheep and One Shepherd. One man may be called to be a soldier and another called to be a peacemaker, but let's leave the derogatory comparisons to those who have an overinflated sense of their own importance and instead, brother with brother, each follow their own calling in harmony with one another. And let's especially not, as Mr B. has done, stand in front of one group and cast aspersions upon the other.

Note: This post is in no way a criticism of men who are, by their God-given natures, Warriors. Nor is it an attempt to pull a "reverse W.B." and assert that Peacemakers are better/godly-er/braver men than Warriors. It's simply a chance for me to restate with more clarity my objections to W.B.'s words and the words and opinions of men like him.


Polly said...

Wow Lis. How exactly fitting for what I've been learning this week. Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers, not the warmakers. David was a godly man, but was not allowed to build the temple because of the blood on his hands. Battle may be sometimes necessary, but it is a last resort when peacemaking has proved insufficient.
Matthew 18 I believe spells out the way to deal with your "brother who has sinned against you" and gives the steps toward reconciliation. Of course, if "he does not hear you", there is further instruction on coming with witnesses, etc. and finally excommunication. But the point is, you WANT to "gain your brother"--the rest is undesirable and only as a last resort.
I realize it's not quite the same ball game when dealing with unbelievers, bt the principle, I think, holds. Don't jump so fast to the war or discipline part!
The goal is PEACE and that is what we are to PURSUE. It ends up, I think we'll all find, being a lot harder.

Hosanna said...

Whoa, this is heavy.... I missed the whole post-and-comment debate that triggered this last year.
I think some people think of everything in a National Defense kind of light. (Including my family and myself sometimes.) Others tend to see things in, shall we say, "Civillian" kind of light. NOTHING WRONG WITH EITHER.
So, for the sake of discussion, let's assume that WB has something.... in terms of National Defense, maybe there are sheep and sheepdogs.... My Dad, Lt. Joubert?- definately a sheepdog. My little sister, headed for the Military? A sheepdog. Me? I simply am not going to sign up and go to war. But I admire and esteem those who do, in my place.
By the same token, maybe I am a "sheepdog" after all........I am not fighting terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan, but here at home I have, for many years, used the skill I do have - (feeble though it mat be) - writing - using "fighting words" - to voice an opinion and a point of view in many newspapers in the area. I have gotten involved in local and national politics, campaigned, gone to conferences, paid to listen to top-level speakers and politicians - all in the name of doing what I believe is "my part" - even though I am not "called" to join the service.
So, I agree, Lis - I think W.B.'s analogy (as described by you, as I have not read the original in it's entirety) has some flaws, an several levels.
Are you a sheep just because you don't sign up? I do not consider myself a sheep; I take a strong interest in matters or National defense and all National Goings-on that may effect my personal freedoms.
My husband never went to war. Yeah, he has guns. "Home defense", we call them. If the need arose, he would not hesitate to use them in defense of home and hearth. He's not a sheep.
I think the second you start getting out labels, like Mr. Bennet did,and slapping them on people, based on your opinion at the time, you're just in the wrong. I get so tired of people in the media, etc. labeling everyone and pitting Americans against each other; starting a finger-pointing fever.
Now, maybe I am taking WB out of context. I have to go over to Su and read the thing and digest it. But right off the bat, I have to say I think you're right.
I wouldn't put J in the "sheep" category. "Sheep" is just not a word I would ever use to describe J. Heck no. Huh-uh. Nope.
I may comment more after I go read the origional post(s) and comments.