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Sheep, Shepherd, Farmer
The hierarchy of social interactions in modern society originates in contemporary hedonistic viewpoints. These viewpoints originate in a fear of personal discomfort, or lack of ability to control every aspect of life. As we see the long term problems of our society blossom from below like milk in coffee, we find ourselves reassessing these psychologies.
A type of modified caste system can be applied to describe the social-intellect of all. When creating morals of value sets, one falls into one of three mental types: a sheep, a shepherd, or a farmer. As with any separation of ideas, comes the lines that separate them; the lines between these social standings are not solid- meaning anyone can fall into one or more category; each "caste" is not exclusive.
Caste systems are not well understood by modern people because caste is an assessment of ability that does not involve "working hard" at a job, and being declared fittest by the dollar count. Further, caste is heriditary, which upsets modern people because it does not appear to be their personal choice and financial dedication that places them. Caste could be seen most clearly as an assessment of character, and through that, abilities.
A sheep type person creates his personal philosophy by basing decisions and beliefs on only two factors:
A sheep's views rarely reflect future goals. They "live for the moment," and are thrown into turmoil or depression when their lives seem less than perfect. Negative and positive are concrete perceptions -- good and bad rule what the sheep does. Things that invoke any feeling or action less than their defined "happiness" are bad and should be avoided at all costs. Concepts that suggest otherwise ("beauty in destruction" etc) are automatically considered insane. Those that disagree are misanthropes or lacking in understanding of the "real world," and thus, are not accepting readily into the herd.
Sheep, despite their tendencies of outcasting others, are the most insecure and underdeveloped people with their beliefs. They are the most easily dissuaded into abandoning their own philosophies when something better sounding is presented to them. They move from herd to herd, staying with each one and its values only until another more appealing happens by -- then they join that one.
Some sheep lack the intellect or willpower to discover their cycles and to change them. This makes them good followers, even in cliques that claim individuality. Since sheep biologically lack an internal compass toward a direction beyond the tangible, they use any intangible ideas or social states as a means to the end of being sheep, but also not being seen as such, as that would make them lower status in the herd.
They may feel completely fulfilled with their lives. If one only seeks to achieve nothing they can never feel failure. They are hedonists because the thought that they are doing whatever they want with the sole purpose of gaining feigned (or in those lacking intelligence-real) happiness. These are the, "let's stick it to the man!" people. They will yield their pitchforks, not for the overall goal of helping the herd (though that may play a factor) but for some sort of individualized pleasure.
Another type of sheep are those that drift. They do nothing out of routine. They may see things with a tunnel vision like view. They do the same repetitive actions day in and day out without recognition of their day-to-day lifestyles. These people have a sense that they will someday have something better for themselves, but never take action to get there. They may have wishes, but they won't take the initiative to change those wishes and "if only" desires into goals. They focus on the self as the other sheep do.
The next caste is shepherd. The first type of shepherd is heavily influenced by sheep thinking. Perhaps they can be considered sheep on the verge of leaving the herd to pursue less self-focused or less materialistic values. They feel their lives are dissolute and profligate because they have a sense of lacking or emptiness in the "do what feels good" lifestyle. They are prone to depression and self-hatred when others tell them that breaking away from the hedonist thinking is of inferior output.
These sheep/shepherds withdraw into their own ways of thinking and will see those that think otherwise to be stupid. They aren't likely to argue or push their beliefs, but rather use the "let's agree to disagree: settlement. Unfortunately most of these people become so concentrated on being different that they shove away things that connect them to more than their individual selves.
Other shepherds that arise from sheepdom are often slightly more intelligent than the herd -- or at least have the ability to recognize that they are not satisfied with their current ways of life. They seek something more than happiness, or the placation sheep say is happiness.
Shepherds usually have some sort of direction in their lives (i.e. goals) and they strive to achieve them. Like the sheep, their lives are focused on things that bring a feeling of pleasure -- although they get their pleasure from completing and accomplishing goals instead of doing whatever they want to in the short term.
Also unlike sheep, shepherds are not easily swayed from their beliefs and values. They will argue their points, trying to discern right and wrong within differing values. If they cannot initially persuade their audience that what they profess is the only correct answer, they will turn to Straw-man type arguing. When this fails they will get frustrated and give up -- "Dude, you're just wrong."; "That's just your opinion."; and other snarky comebacks replace logic and structure.
A third type of shepherd has reached a point where they have completely broken away from the herd. They no longer see values as "right" or "wrong" and do not concern themselves with convincing others that the their way of thinking is better or superior in any way. They live the way they do because they see it as the best way for them. This shepherd is intelligent and wants to achieve things, but may not have the know-how or quite the amount of true determination they need to get there. They may be confused as to what they want to achieve at all.
They are usually more silent observers than the moral based and straw-man shepherd. They will lack understanding of their own values because popular opinion (the pitchfork wielders) tell them they are wrong, but their instinct and willpower tells them otherwise. If this kind of shepherd can set himself above the masses (not in a superior/inferior way, but "above" meaning "having direction") than he can perhaps become a farmer.
Farmers are those that seek more than the sheep's missing goal lifestyle and have broken through the shepherd's right/wrong morality struggles.
Farmers know that things of negative view (by general consensus) like war, death, decay, sorrow, hardship, or anger are all a part of the beauty of existence and are necessary to keep society from stagnation. To the farmer, the world is art. Art may portray the "negative" aspects of living, but its aesthetics show the true meaning and inspire the farmer to accept or conquer the art (life) with a feeling of awe and appreciation.
The farmer, when conversing with others, will not likely argue. They choose no sides (including his own) because they find no significance in the opposition's views of right and wrong. A farmer will state his beliefs, clarify if needed, but finds no need to defend them. They do not judge the sheep or shepherds -- as these are necessary to society, farmers do not desire to see them fall.
Instead, farmers aspire to achieve their goals and to make more as they live their accomplishments, and failures. A farmer achieves goals by living a proactive lifestyle. They will seek out those of similar character as associates, friends, and lovers. To a sheep or shepherd a farmer may give off the impression of being pretentious or self-centered because they live their goals with little or no concern of the viewpoints of others.
A farmer, however, is not self-centered. Many of their goals pertain to the growth of community, structure, and healthy living. They want a community where people of action thrive. They want the connectedness and achievements of such a community to grow, not to a material based world or a world where people fear the inevitable (such as death or hardship)- but one that is strong and focused on what is beneficial of the whole.
The divisions of sheep, shepherd and farmer are not imposed definitions like who you know or what you get paid. They are designations of ability and even more than that, character. Character determines what tasks an individual will find a match for his or her abilities, and as a result, where they will be both happy and competent working. In a society where incompetence is rife, we might reconsider externally-defined roles for internally-defined ones such as the caste divisions of sheep, shepherd and farmer.
July 1, 2009