The following two paragraphs are from an OpEdNews item, written in 2008 as President Obama was beginning his presidency. The author’s sentiments are apparent.
“This is the first time in our nation’s history; someone is speaking the needs, wants and voices of a majority of the people. He is neither a right winger extremist, nor a leftist but a moderate right down the middle embracing and bringing every American together to participate and contribute towards the success, safety and security of America.
“An overwhelming majority of us are moderates, people who want to get along with all and focus on living the American dream; education, employment, family, children, car, home and a safe retirement. Thank God for Obama, he mirrors the dreams of millions of Americans and is our new shepherd on the political spectrum. He will lead us to a safe, secure, strong, and respectable and a healthy America.”
(OpEdNews, 2/27/2008 Obama the Shepherd, Mike Ghouse)
The word is “shepherd” in the second paragraph, frightens me. Whether the author intended to or not, that one term, in my opinion speaks volumes about President Obama, and liberals in general. Although I invite you to analyze each sentence above for accuracy (which I question), this essay focuses on the use of the term “shepherd.”
Those who spread misinformation, who perpetuate half-truths or outright false statements are counting on the fact that most listeners/readers are too gullible or too lazy to actually check the accuracy of these statements. Politically, this makes these news consumers a flock of sheep.
Unfortunately, in the secular, worldly context, shepherd-led-flocks rarely come to a good end. Protected from natural predators, coyotes, wolves, etc., they fall victim to the shepherds who tend the flocks. Keep in mind that shepherds do not tend flocks for the flock’s ultimate benefit, but for the benefit of the shepherd and “his family.”
Also, shepherds look upon the members of the flock as unable to take care of themselves, and therefore, the shepherd must make decisions for them.
We have lost sight of history’s lesson—flocks and herds have been around far longer than their human shepherds, and while life was tough, they were able to take care of themselves and survive. They only lost their pastoral freedom when the shepherds rounded them up “for their own good.”
Shepherds make sure that the flock is moving in the “right” direction—the direction that the shepherd wants them to go. The shepherd’s guidance becomes mandatory, driven by the goals of the shepherd. The opposite of a shepherd is a cognizant leader—the individual who has asked—and listened to the members of the society, and leads on their behalf to achieve identified collective goals. Yes, we follow the leader, but voluntarily because we have chosen that path. If the leader ceases to lead in the direction that society wants, a new leader will be selected. This works if (1) the leader is selected from within the society, (2) each member of the society makes a thoughtful decision when selecting the leader, and (3) the society pays attention to the direction leadership is taking.
I fear that too many members of our society fall into the “flock” mentality of looking to the shepherd for all of their needs—pasture (sustenance), perhaps shelter (housing), now health, and guidelines for behavior. Are we content to be shepherded through life?
This year, more than ever, it is important for each of us to stop and take stock of who we are. Are you a member of a secular flock or a society? The first question to ask yourself to determine your status is, “Do you vote?” When you cast an informed ballot, you exercise some influence over your personal environment—you let your candidate know what you expect of him or her; if so, you should be selecting a cognizant leader. The next question to ask is, “Do you know what your elected officials are really doing?” Do they listen and do they really look out for your group’s best interests? Leaders work for the people. Shepherd work for special interests. Are they shepherds or leaders?
The ability of an individual to influence conditions in his or her personal, family, and community environment is what—in my opinion—separates a “society” from a “herd.” Members of a society participate in the management of their environment for their mutual safety and benefit. Members of a herd are “managed”—usually to the benefit of the shepherd.
In my opinion, when we relinquish control to, and depend on, the shepherd for our safety and well-being, we have finally moved from a “society” to a “herd” mentality.
For example, I believe the nation has been herded into the Affordable Care Act.
This is an analogy between people and sheep. The basic rule of analogies is that they eventually break down; after all people and sheep are not the same. But then, that is the point, isn’t it?
Just a thought.
Your neighbor, Jeff