Where I don't care what others think

The Good Shepherd

September 27th, 2009 Posted in Life

I’ve always been fascinated by the common comparison between leaders and those who herd sheep for a living.  I seem to have this memory in my mind of various religious figures being called shepherd who would tended their “flock” of followers.  I often wonder why one of the sheep cannot just start leading the flock on their own, or better yet, what happens when you herd a bunch of shepherds together?  Who takes charge of them?  Simply stating the goal or desired outcome isn’t effective, its hard to judge if they truly have a vested interest in the goal.  Each shepherd probably feels more than qualified to go do their own thing and without some super-shepherd around there is no one they feel obligated to report to or no one they feel obligated to follow.

Thats not always a bad thing I guess.  An autonomously guiding set of nodes could probably do some really cool things if they were programmed to share similar goals (botnet?), but if each node is only serving their unique needs the graph isn’t going to get very far.  I think a fly just flew into the light socket on my T60 laptop screen.  I suspect that the most outspoken shepherd, or the most socially-acceptable one would end up getting their fellow shepherds to follow along, regardless of qualifications or sheep-herding skills.

They always forget about the sheep whenever they talk about the shepard.  Ok, I lied.  Sometimes they mention the sheep, but usually only when its time to sacrifice one or address some issues with the straggler or gimpy sheep.  They never talk about the average sheep who’s not selected for a ritualistic death…. I think that clears up any possible confusion.  Unlike the special sheep, these boring sheep go about the same routine every day, probably not changing too much.  Unless they can turn their fur gold or something like that, there is a low likelihood they’ll ever advance (if advance is the right word) to anything more than your average sheep.  I find this discouraging, as I like to believe that if you work hard enough at something you can make progress.

What’s a little bit different about sheep is that they are forced to have friends.  Unlike other things being moved, sheep are densely packed into a mob and guided more as a unified object than as N individual sheeps.  They can’t possibly escape from being close to  a lot of other sheep, which probably helps them remain content in their herd.  A herd of size 1 would probably be a herd full of sad sheep, and maybe a sad shepherd too.

The shepherds on the other hand are not forced to be social.  They can all work together quietly and awkwardly on their mission; hey, they can even opt to leave that weird shepherd out from the small talk because he acts a little different from the rest.

Whats better, being a sheep or a shepherd?  I postulate most people would rather be a shepherd, under the assumption that the position would entitle them the guide a mass of sheep.  If however, the shepherds were to be guiding a group with their peers to a location I think it would be far less appealing, being a sheep might be a bit more interesting.

Luckily, I don’t like things like ‘lamb chop’ so I’m not really involved in the sheep herding market much these days.

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