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The Goat and the Sheep The Goat and the Sheep

By Mercedes Dannenberg



An allegory for our times

The Goat and the Sheephe two children gazed down from the grassy hill upon a huge flock of millions of white sheep. As they watched in silent fascination, a very large goat with shifty yellow eyes, twisty, pointy horns and fiendish look of malice on its ugly face, emerged from the sea of bleating, woolly forms and stamped the ground with its shaggy hooves. Suddenly the goat reared up on its hindlegs and stretching out a forefoot, let out a commanding nicker which made the children clutch their mother's hand in fright.

"Baah," replied the sheep.
Again the goat nickered.
"Baaaaah," replied the sheep.
The two bewildered children looked up at their mother in surprise.
"Behold a dictator and his stupid flock," she explained with a smile.

"What is that goat telling the sheep?" asked the boy.
"He isn't really telling them anything at all," replied his mother, "for, if he did, they — being simple-minded sheep — wouldn't understand a word of it. Instead, he is using a clever method of dealing with huge crowds, which is to shout a simple phrase they can all understand over and over again, very loudly. The sheep will always respond to this because they have only sheeps' brains, which they only use for feeding, grubbing after money and reproduction of their kind."
"Are all sheep as stupid as this flock?" asked the girl
"They certainly are, Kelly," replied her mother. "And if any of them should give any signs of being less stupid, the Great Goat's bodyguard would soon use their sharp horns and heavy hooves to bring them back into line, or else destroy him as an enemy of the flock. This is called 'homeland security' and much approved of by the sheep who do not want to see one of them rise above the flock and become their leader."

"But what use is the Great Goat to all these silly sheep?" asked the boy.
"No use at all, Michael," replied his mother; "except that, being a more aggressive beast, the sheep will obey his commands, as sheep always like to do. They get a big thrill from having such a fierce commander who promises them many fine things such as sheep like to dream of. This gives them the pleasure of anticipation and makes the leader feel proud and generous."
"And does he ever keep his promises?" asked Kelly.
"Why should he?" chuckled her mother. "The sheep have very short memories and don't really expect him to keep them, nor do they wish it, for every day he promises something better and the flock are very happy to have such a 'promising' leader."
"Why are the bodyguards chasing those black sheep over there?" asked Michael, pointing to a group of terrified sheep being herded together by three fierce looking goats.

"Ah," smiled his mother, "being of a different color the black sheep are not considered of such fine descent as the white sheep according to the leader. Besides, being a wise and statesmanlike goat, he always makes sure there are some among his flock who can be blamed when anything goes wrong. The black sheep, being such a tiny minority, serve this purpose very well, and give all the other sheep a comforting feeling of superiority, which makes it easier for the Great Goat to control them."
"I think the sheep are very silly," muttered Kelly.

Suddenly, there was a commotion at the base of the hill and a procession of smartly-dressed businessmen clutching huge bundles of pieces of paper in their clammy hands, approached the Great Goat. With many bows and handshakes and smiling expressions on their faces, they laid the pieces of paper at the feet of the Great Goat, who nickered with approval.
"Who are these people?" asked Michael.
"They are foolish statesmen from distant lands who have come to 'negotiate' with the Great Goat, lest he lead his sheep against them. The bits of paper are called 'money' which he loves to tear to bits and chew and this keeps him quiet for a while."
"But why would anyone be afraid of a few goats and a lot of silly sheep?" Michael wanted to know.

"Ah," smiled his mother, "this is called 'psychology'. The Great Goat, having a loud and angry voice overawes these frightened and foolish statesmen with his rhetoric. They fear that, at the Great Goat's command, the sheep would attack them in their millions and destroy civilization, and so, to keep the peace, as they imagine, they suck up to the Great Goat and give him power over other grazing lands where there are not enough sheep to resist him."
"But why don't these statesmen simply band together and destroy the goat?" asked Kelly
"They do not want to band together, because the Great Goat knows how to promise as well as threaten. When he is in a good mood he can adopt a very friendly tone, at the same time bluffing and overcoming the brains of these witless statesmen."
"I think they are even sillier than the sheep!" exclaimed Kelly.
"Perhaps they will wake up one day," said her mother, "and then the goats had better watch out!"

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Not pants
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