Metaphor of the Shepherd is make over of an exploitative relationship. In the best possible smilie faced corporate PR tradition. We are made to think that sheep are dumb helpless animals who need to be cared for. By being herded and guarded by the relatives of wolves. Under the benevolent eye of the one with the hooked staff. Supposedly at the ready to yank in the mindless animal straying from the flock.
The sheep are in fact getting fleeced.
The “caring” element of shepherding is essentially about inventorying and asset protection. The fundamental fact is that sheep exist for the sole benefit of the shepherd. They have been genetically optimised to serve this one purpose. To the point that it would be possible for a sheep to perceive the shepherd is its omnipotent creator. Never mind if their children are killed and eaten if the shepherd has a hankering for a little lamb. In the greater scheme of things (beyond the perception of a sheep) the shepherd is a vulnerable entity. At the mercy of flux of the wool markets and the evolution of synthetics.
Yet the benevolent aura this metaphor bestows upon the shepherd’s absolute power is timelessly seductive.. In a complicated, unpredictable world it seems reasonable to sell yourself to the person offering the illusion of predictable safety. Specially when the “shepherd” claims to know the way to better pastures.
Perhaps the best ever description of this process is the Allegorical masterpiece of Animal Farm. So terrifying that I’m too scared to read it again let. A book I find more terrifying than 1984. If you have read it – give it a try. You don’t have to be a horror fan to enjoy it. Terror part will only hit if you took too closely at politics. 🙂 What ever you do, you’ll end braying a bit differently. Baaaa