Have you heard or used the term “sheople”?
It seems popular to think of and refer to any human individual or group believed to just “mindlessly follow” and “conform” to be like sheep – but actual real sheep are seldom as weak, helpless, dependent, and unable to think for themselves as many humans are or believe.
‘Domesticated” humans act often more like lemmings than sheep (or dogs, horses, cows, goats, pigs, or any other household, farm, or wild animal(s) in their thinking and behavior. Why insult sheep or any other animals?
While all creatures share much in common, each is also unique (and, in this, humans are no exception – in their exceptionalism).
Religious “pastors” are not “pastoralists” and the comparison probably made more sense in the past to populations living with closer connection to animals than most modern urban people who know little about sheep.
MY first few jobs were working with sheep, so I know a little bit about real sheep – as well as many other domesticated and wild animals (that many people sometimes say odd and often inaccurate or “untrue” things about).
Take, for instance, “black sheep” – among white sheep. There are several different breeds of sheep with black faces and/or black wool. There is nothing inherently bad or wrong or wild or crazy or even special about any of them, individually or as a group – other than when seen in a group with an obvious difference in appearance (of coloration).
The most common reason for different breeds to be mixed in a flock is the same as why some (castrated males) might wear bells (bell weathers): to make is easier to quickly tell if anyone is missing without having to count all the others.
To make the math simple, ten black sheep in a flock of 100 is 10% – and if any one of those 10 is missing, so might and even likely are around 9 others. If one of ten black sheep in a herd of 1,000 white sheep (1%) is missing, how many others do you think are potentially missing? One percent? It could be more like ten percent – meaning maybe 99 others….
Every individual (and group) has its own path – and like people walking in a labyrinth, it’s not always obvious to others or themselves how far along or even what direction they are going toward their destination.
All who wander are not lost. A black sheep is not necessarily any more “independent” (or “influential”) than others – nor any more or less likely to go its “own way” – but IF/when “LOST” often CAN “lead others “ASTRAY”….
Shepherds/sheep farmers/ranchers/herders or girls named Mary seldom need to search for and “rescue” lost sheep or lambs. Most eventually find their own way “home”. But sometimes they do need to be “protected” from predators and “temptations” that may harm them (and/or others).
Sometimes a shepherd is like a lighthouse, simply standing in one place watching out for sheep (like ships at a sea), guiding them away from danger and acting like a beacon to help them find their way back/home/where they need or desire to go/be.
Sheep don’t just bunch up nor are they just followers. They have their own personalities – and some a probably both more intelligent and independent than some humans appear.
Like military marching, the human in charge is seldom in front expecting all others behind to mindlessly follow nor in the rear pushing all in front along but usually along side – able to see and guide the group where they need to go.
I would rather be a guide on the side than a sage on a stage. I’m even really sure what a “thought leader” is but I would like to be some kind of “thought shepherd” gently guiding those I can toward perspectives and ways of thinking that might serve them better than many of the cultural “memes” that seem to limit or mislead.
A meme is really the theme of a mind virus. As someone who also worked for years in military, medical, and holistic health care professions, I strive to protect those around me from being infected with harmful beliefs and to help them recover from those they already have been.
We all have blind spots and beliefs that do not serve us or others. I certainly do. IF I MIGHT be able to help YOU in ANY way, please let me know. I may not be “BIONIC” – but Believe It Or Not, I Care (about YOU, the “world” we share, and the future being created for others after us).
© 2018, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.