Better to be a Sheep Than a Lemming

Lately, as a joke, when someone makes a point or an argument that is supported by science, research or solid evidence I say, “well you didn’t say ‘don’t be a sheep’ so I don’t believe you.” Today, as I was posting that as a comment on a Facebook thread, I started to think more about that saying.

It is a derogatory term for someone that goes where they are led. To a certain extent, that is true and is true for everyone. We are all influenced by the information we receive. Most recently, it is being used against people that are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by wearing masks and requiring masks in their place of business.

In these instances, the “sheep” are being led by shepherds who are experts in the medical field, especially infectious diseases, or are government officials who are taking the information provided by those experts. In that case, I am indeed a sheep. I listen to top experts and consume my information through credible, objective media sources. Note: I did not say “trusted” media. Just because you trust someone, doesn’t mean they don’t mislead you.

My thoughts, as I lay in bed, went deeper down the sheep metaphor rabbit hole. The shepherd has a vested interest in the sheep. The sheep are the livelihood of the shepherd and as such, cannot be treated callously. Just as sheep provide wool, civilians provide revenue in the form of taxes, sales or income, to the government. There is zero benefit to the government to shut businesses down. A state without a state income tax relies on sales tax for their revenue. The longer businesses stay closed, the less money they make. Sure, they get some sales tax from Amazon sales, but the more businesses that are permanently closing now, the less revenue they will have in the long run.

Businesses are losing money, and not just the small businesses. Think of all the big lobbyist groups. Gun sales are going through the roof, but other than that, and the toilet paper industry which wasn’t going anywhere, corporations are losing money. Even “Big Pharma” is losing because people are going to the doctor less frequently and skipping vaccines because they are worried about getting Covid at the doctor’s office. Oil is taking a hit because people are driving less. The list goes on.

Aside from Amazon and gun shops, this pandemic is bad for everyone. So, our “shepherds” have a vested interest in getting businesses open and people back to work. What state and local governments really want to do is get the virus under control enough so that they can open back up. Better to take a three-week hit to the pocketbook once, than a two-week hit every other month for the next year.

 Shepherds do not want to lead the sheep down a dangerous path. They want as many sheep to survive as possible so they can continue to shear them for years to come. Even sheep used for meat are fed and treated well until it is time for slaughter. A well-fed sheep is worth more at market than a scrawny, malnourished one.

Then I started to think about the people that ignore experts. They are not sheep, as they often proudly proclaim. But what are they? I am sure they think of themselves as wolves, a strong predator. But that isn’t fitting for the whole sheep metaphor. Because a wolf still acts in the best interest of the pack. Those people are lemmings.

Lemmings seem to serve no real purpose. I have never heard of a market for lemming products. I have seen no lemming clothing, or seen them featured as a challenge on a cooking show. Lemmings just congregate with other lemmings and go wherever the group is going, even to their own detriment. I picture lemmings, heading for the cliff, mocking the sheep grazing in a field.

“Covid is a hoax!”

“Vaccines cause autism!”

“If the Earth is round, Australians would fall off!”

The first lemming over the edge is not the leader, just the lemming in front. Sadly, there are lemmings on both sides of the political spectrum, in every industry and virtually every household. When the world burns, it will no be the fault of the sheep, it will be because of lemmings. So yes, I am a sheep, shepherded by reliable information, which is better than being a lemming following the lemming in the front.

Note: Yes, I know that lemmings don’t commit mass suicide, it is a thought I had in bed. If you don’t like being thought of as a lemming, don’t be a fucking lemming.