The sheep were nervous. Recently some wolves had gotten into the flock and killed some of them. There was shock, of course, and outrage. There was some talk of how much the world had changed, how things would never be the same again. Some proclaimed that all the sheep must now band together behind their leader and that those who didnít should be cast forth from the flock.
There were even calls for revenge. Unfortunately, nobody knew where to find the offending wolves. Sheepdogs were hired to protect the flock as well as to protect it from itself. Some sheep had been straying too far from the flock and henceforth this would be forbidden - for their own good, of course. Those who disobeyed were liable to get bitten or even eaten.
One day the leader announced that a neighboring flock had been known to harbor wolves. Moreover, he had proof that this neighboring flock was intending to launch an attack and destroy the flock. This was because the others were jealous of the flockís goodness and virtue; their rich pasture was, naturally, proof of their goodness and virtue.
It was announced that, for its own safety, the flock would have to conquer the others and remove their evil shepherd. As a bonus, they would get better access to the salt lick. This would also be good for the other sheep.
To do this, though, would entail sacrifice. They would have to make do with less grass and they would get sheared every month instead of every year. A small number of lambs would be required to be sacrificed, as well. But it should be remembered that the world had changed and that these sacrifices were a small price to pay for freedom from the shepherd.
Of course, there were those who whispered that the leader and his friends looked ďa little different;Ē that, even though they seemed to have the same fleece as everyone else, they never had to get sheared. Some even said that the leaderís wool sometimes slipped and you could see a dark muzzle with long teeth underneath. This notion was laughingly dismissed by most as paranoia.
Every once in a while someone would ask about the shepherd. They would remember a time when wolves were far away; when grass was more plentiful and when they only got sheared once a year. These malcontents were quickly reminded that the shepherd had been their enemy, that they were all better off now that he was gone.
The war against the other flock was over quickly and the leader proclaimed a glorious victory. No wolves were found in the other flock, but the leader confidently assured the sheep that wolves would be found, that it was just a matter of time. In the meantime, the leaderís friends would get exclusive access to the best grass and water. This would benefit everyone because the droppings from the friends would fertilize the entire pasture making it much more productive.
How will this story unfold? Will the sheep calmly accept these conditions? Will they stand up on their hind legs and demand more grass? Stay tuned, children, for the next episode.
Larry Robinson is a Sebastopol, California city council member and former mayor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org