Black Sheep

Black Sheep – No More Stigma

The old phrase ‘the black sheep of the family’ was never complimentary. The black sheep was the child that didn’t conform, perhaps underperformed, and was even shunned by their family and the wider community. There was a huge stigma attached to the term.

This was in the days – and to some people these still are the days – when standing out was not good. We should submit to the collective good and pull our weight for the team – or so the prevailing thinking went.

And submit we did: we did as we were told, we kept our heads down, and we made sure the peg went into the hole.

Except, we wouldn’t be any where near as far progressed as a race if it weren’t for the black sheep, those who dared to be different, or who simply were different. If there’s a recurring theme among the people who changed the world we live in, politically, musically, technologically, it is that they took the alternative, less trodden path and weren’t afraid to see where it ended.

While walking with family friends in Connemara on Ireland’s rugged west coast to survey the devastation after some particularly bad storms a few days ago, I came across the scene at the top of this post. A black sheep among white sheep, facing away from me and the only one unmoved by my proximity. A good picture, I thought, to support my view that far from there being a stigma attached to being the black sheep, it’s something to be celebrated for the difference, value and variety it brings to us all.