I don't consider this my opinion; I consider it a fact. A lot of good practical wisdom about life is in the Bible, especially the Gospels. Forget the "religion" in it. That's not what I mean. What I mean is that you can find out a lot about human nature if you just think about what is written in the Bible. Put it this way: it wouldn't have lasted for thousands of years unless it was of immense practical value.
Let's consider the well-known fact that Jesus called Himself the "Good Shepherd" and referred to His "flock" and His "sheep." That almost sounds disturbingly like an insult. If you look at it in a certain way, it is. But then, on the other hand, most people are sheep. So it's not really an insult; it's just a statement of fact about human nature.
Another fact is that He called Himself the "Good Shepherd." That means there must be Bad Shepherds. And there certainly are. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot more Bad Shepherds than there are good ones, and it's been that way throughout history.
Wilfredo Pareto, whom I consider one of the few essential political philosophers to read, wrote that most leaders -- political leaders I must emphasize -- are either Foxes who use fraud, or Lions who use force. He also referred to the masses of people as "Sheep." Those Foxes and Lions can only be the Bad Shepherds, ones that the Sheep often obediently follow.
If the Sheep didn't obediently follow Bad Shepherds, how then, I ask, did we end up with the battle of Stalingrad, in which it is estimated a minimum of one million, and a maximum of two million, were killed in the worst battle in the history of mankind? If people aren't Sheep following Bad Shepherds like Stalin and Hitler, how did we end up with the 20th Century, in which historians estimate anywhere from 177,000,000 to 200,000,000 people died in various wars? If most people aren't Sheep, and most political leaders either Foxes or Lions, how did so many people get conned into marching to their deaths?
Americans like to pride themselves they aren't Sheep, but they are. Here we are a nation of almost 300 million people, and we're involved in two wars plotted and designed by about 25 people who have gained political power. If some 25 or so people can lead that many people, with only a very small percentage protesting, if that is not conclusive proof the overwhelming majority of people are Sheep, then nothing can be.
Traditionally, throughout history, about ten percent of the people, the ones who have gained political power, have used that power to appropriate (okay, steal) about two-thirds of the wealth. Usually societies end up with about 20 percent of the people with 80 percent of the wealth. Pareto called that the 20/80 law, which is another reason everyone should read him.
These people always set themselves up as political, economic, intellectual and moral "elites" (I use the term "elites" neutrally). They then attempt to impose their will and their visions on the masses of people, by force and by fraud. The most well-known observer of this phenomenom is Antonio Gramsci, who although a Marxist certainly was right on the mark with what he noticed.
Of course, it's obvious that if 20 percent of the people -- the Lions and Foxes -- end up with 80 percent of the wealth, that means the remaining 80 percent have to share that 20 percent of the wealth that is left. Not very much, is it? And the Sheep always put up with this until things become unbearable.
Wouldn't you say there exists the possibility that the Foxes and Lions want people to be Sheep? Horace Mann wrote in 1848: “If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor, it matters not by what name the relation between them may be called; the latter, in fact and in truth, will be the servile dependents and subjects of the former.” Perhaps such an observation is why Jesus referred to the political, economic, intellectual and self-styled moral "elites" of His time as "sons of Satan" and as vipers who would steal the last pennies of widows and orphans.
If I had to describe politics in one sentence, I say it's Bad Shepherds leading the Sheep to their deaths. The only way that so many people look to the government to take care of them is because they can't tell the difference between Good and Bad Shepherds. They can't tell shepherds from wolves -- or from Foxes and Lions -- until it's too late.
It appears to be an instinct for most people to follow leaders, just as sheep do. John D. MacDonald, the late mystery writer, in his novel, The Green Ripper, wrote that people are "herd animals, social and imitative." He's right; we're herd animals, like sheep or dogs, and almost all of us play follow the leader, even if that leader leads his flock right over a cliff. They, unbelievably, do so willingly.
It's got to the point I can't even say religious leaders are Good Shepherds, not when people like John Hagee and Pat Robertson and Hal Lindsey are cheering on war, because they think they can kickstart Armageddon and get Jesus to return. These people, and their Christian Zionist followers, want the world to end. I wouldn't call these leaders Good Shepherds, but I'd certainly call their followers brainless and deluded Sheep.
I've come to the conclusion the masses of people don't really think. They feel. That's why they don't really follow principles, as John Thomas Cripps pointed out. They follow leaders, no matter how bad of shepherds they are. Why else would so many people have defended Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot? The answer? Because they're Sheep who fall for the most simplistic of propaganda techniques.
The Sheep, as always, are for the taking, by the wolves and the Foxes and the Lions. They never know it, though, until they become dinner. Then, of all things, they act surprised.