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I am going to marry a sheepdog in just more than two months.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I would like to offer you an analogy, explained in detail by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who retired from the U.S. Army and is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime.

Most people in society are sheep, he begins. They are “kind, gentle, productive creatures who only hurt one another by accident.” The vast majority of Americans are not disposed to harming one another.

Then there are the wolves in society who would feed on the flock without mercy. These people have a capacity for violence, and they use it for evil.

And finally, there are the sheepdogs who live to protect the flock. They also have a capacity for violence, as well as a deep love for the flock.

Col. Grossman continues the analogy: What makes someone a sheep is denial. They don’t want to believe there is evil in the world. They prefer to live their lives in happy ignorance, pretending the wolf will never come.

A community of sheep will be outraged at the idea of an armed police officer in their children’s schools or an individual carrying a concealed weapon in church.

Sheep don’t generally like the sheepdog — it looks too much like the wolf. It has fangs and is capable of violence. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves prowling about.

The sheepdog is a warrior. He believes there are things worth defending, worth dying for and worth living for. He prepares himself to be ready for the moment when the wolf comes.

Most of us are somewhere on the continuum between sheep and sheepdog. We can live in denial and be sheep, or we can prepare ourselves to defend what we hold dear. Such defense takes place on many levels — physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

The sheepdog is not morally superior; it is something that he — or she — has simply chosen to be. Col. Grossman describes the sheepdog as 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.”

His capacity for aggression in itself is not an evil.

Instead of labeling, diagnosing and treating aggression in little boys for fear that they might grow to be wolves; let us focus on raising them to love and protect their fellow human beings. Let us raise them to be sheepdogs.

If we denounce all aggression and all violence as bad or evil in itself, who will be left to defend us against those who truly use violence for evil?

How grateful I am for the sheepdogs in my life and across the country. To those of you who have dedicated your lives to train formally as a sheepdog — to the police officers, firefighters, Coast Guard, members of the military — thank you.

And to those of you who informally use your moral, mental, and physical strength to patrol, protect and defend — thank you.

Andrea loves seeing the ROTC uniforms on campus. Contact her at

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