Once upon a time a good shepherd named Sam lived in a lush green valley. He tended a small flock of sheep and protected them and cared for them and took their wool for himself. And his herd would grow, for all the sheep nearby heard that his charges need not fear the butcher...as I was saying, Sam was a kindly shepherd.
And so Sam would take in sheep that ran away from other farms, where butcher's knife awaited them. Naturally, he would return the kind he didn't like...sheep with fleece that resembled dreadlocks or funny looking eyes or other undesirable traits. Still, all the animals around knew his place to be best.
The safety of the sheep and Sam's prosperity were further enhanced by Sam's long shotgun. The jackals soon learned to pick other prey and the sheep were content, though often cold for lack of fleece.
Over time, however, the happy sheep began to notice that something was amiss. For instance, when the jackals slinked by, Sam would no longer chase them. He would simply blast them from the porch of his spare but neat white house. The problem with that was simple: most of the pellets ended up in the sheep, with a distinct minority inconveniencing the jackals.
Moreover, whether because of myopia or a drinking problem, Sam would often fire upon black sheep of the herd, as if confusing them with the jackals. When the sheep complained, the herder would look puzzled and go home to enjoy fine mutton.
The situation grew intolerable, yet everyone knew that other ranches had the same problems, and worse. The most active of the herd had finally come up with a good idea. Next time the jackals came in to try their luck they were able to get right next to the sheep -- and then the rams and the ewes charged, giving hell with horn and hoof.
No sooner that the predators retreated, leaving mangled comrades in their wake, than did rancher Sam come out, shotgun at the ready. He surveyed the battleground and addressed the sheep. --"Sheep," he said "I am impressed! Who did this fine work?" Several planners of the ambush came forward, baaaing proudly.
Sam raised his shotgun and blasted the animal closest to him. The rest stood dumbfounded, not sure what to do. The shepherd quickly shot the others who came forward.
--"That" he declared "is the end to which all who employ violence against fellow animal will come." One ewe began to say that jackals were not exactly fellow animals, but the gaping muzzle of Sam's shotgun restored quiet.
Sam knew he was right, for if the dumb beasts learned to fend for themselves, he and his shotgun would be unemployed. Worse yet, fleecing would become outright perilous.
And so life goes on as before. Jackals eat better, and so does Sam. Stray pellets have a commendable ability to find sheep while seeking jackals. And the herd is content, for they know that the other sheep have it even worse.
Copyright 1997 Oleg Volk