In the metaphor of vigilance, there are three kinds of people in the world, sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. I am a sheepdog. I'm not a very good one, but I am a natural one. You see I was the oldest of five kids growing up in a roughneck neigbhorhood. We played vigilance games.
I've written about ghetto games before, and BB Britches, Open Chest and Rubber Donkey are the vigilance games.
BB Britches is a classic exercise in vigilance. It works simply like this. On any day at any time, somebody declares that BB Britches is On. Any word that starts with 'B', you have to say 'BB Britches' or else get fired on. The game would go on until whoever started it could get with a bunch of players and all mutually decided to quit. You can imagine what kind of confusion it causes when people didn't know the game was on, but generally it was only the stupid kids that didn't catch on.
Open Chest was simply more stupid and brutal. You walk around with your arms crossed across your chest. If you left your arms down, you get fired on. Simple, stupid, deadly.
Needless to say 'getting fired on' had it's own rules and regulations. But you would have to live in the hood to know that. Essentially, except during slapboxing (which we'll cover momentarily), 'getting fired on' meant specifically a punch to the chest. It had to be hard enough to make you go 'oof' but not hard enough to make you cry. Since none of us was older than 11 for these kinds of games, that was a broad enough range and we all understood our limits which were almost never breached. You don't hit someone in the stomach or in the ribs. You don't ever hit someone in the face. Hitting on the arm is for the b-players. When you get fired on well, it will make a deep resounding sound and 'cave in' your chest. You bend over, say 'Damn' or some such and rejoin playfully admitting your opponent's clean shot since all of these kids are your friends anyway.
Rubber Donkey was the game like BB Britches except that the letter 'D' was taboo. Now my best friend was a treacherous no-goodnik named Grant. Grant was a predator and was my best friend only *after* school. During school, I was not cool enough for Grant to acknowledge. Typical 10 year old stuff. So it was usually Grant who called the day to be a BB Britches day, and when he was feeling particularly feisty, he would combine Open Chest, BB Britches AND Rubber Donkey. Triple vigilance in your words and in your person.
But that wasn't enough. Grant was not as good a reader as I, but he was as good in math. So we would also play Buzz. And we would also play Buzz Fizz. For you non-ghetto born / non-math geeks out there, Buzz is a counting game in which all multiples of 5 are replaced by the word Buzz. Similarly if you play Buzz Fizz, all multiples of five and seven are replaced by Fizz. 1 2 3 4 Buzz 6 Fizz 8 9 Buzz...
So we would, Grant and I, engage ourselves in all five vigilance games, and yes you did have to say 'Buzz BB Britches'. I could live in such meta for quite some time, even while enduring the blows waiting for my chances to strike back. But mostly I was vigilant.
To be a sheepdog in today's society requires an odd kind of vigilance, but I'm convinced it will be a useful discipline. Not because I am a grasshopper all about discipline as contrasted to a summer ant, but because I have known predators like Grant, who taught me how to play Poker, complete with the weekday rules. As in it's Wednesday and I have two pair, and two pair beats your full house on a Wednesday, bitch.
Vigilance is difficult in today's society because we are so many millions and our social spheres are so varied. The zombie apocalypse is already here, it's just unevenly distributed. So my level of vigilance looks crazy - I like knives and guns not only because they're beautiful tools, but because they are weapons. But the rules of society, somewhat distinct from the law of the land, but ever-shifting often dictates that sheepdoggery is perverse. I'll let those who came up with the term speak to that, but we dogs are cousins to the wolf and nip at the heels of sheep to get them in line. It can't be pleasant for those who don't know or care about the difference, knowing only what they feel in their absense of vigilance.
I think the most important thing about sheepdoggery is the human quality I must bring to it. So many of us live in Idiot-Proof Cities that we tend to trust anonymous institutions rather than anonymous persons. People talk about the good of the common man and what's best for humanity yet don't see the contradiction in empowerment of institutions.