The tale of how to catch a wild pig deserves more detail.
A smart farmer knew that if he went out with his dogs and nets and cattle prods to capture wild pigs that the pigs would run amok. It would take tremendous energy to round them up. They would violently resist. Some would get away. Some would fight back and possibly injure him or his dogs.
And when he finally got them in the pen, his troubles would only be starting. He would have to build the pen to withstand extreme pressure from within. The pigs would try to escape. They may refuse to eat. They would resist any kind of intervention he may attempt, from medical treatment to pen improvements.
So the smart farmer instead threw some food in one of his fields. Soon enough, wild pigs came to eat the food. But they quickly scurried away anytime they saw the farmer. This went on for a week until the pigs hardly even noticed the farmer across the field.
The next week when the pigs came to eat in the field, there were three posts with boards nailed across them horizontally. The pigs sniffed around on every side of the new structure but didn’t seem to find anything threatening about it. To be safe, they ate quickly and took off as soon as they caught a glimpse of the farmer.
By the end of the week, everything went back to normal, and the pigs hardly noticed when the farmer appeared.
The following week, another two posts and horizontal boards showed up. The pigs did their due diligence and sniffed around every side of the board and posts. But again, nothing seemed amiss. They quickly got used to the change.
The next week the posts and boards remained the same, and the food was left where it always was. The pigs ate the food and when they were done, they noticed another smell. It was peanut butter, but it was jammed inside cavernous pitted balls. This turned out to be great fun for the pigs to try to get the delicious peanut butter out. When the ball slipped and rolled away they squealed with delight and chased it down once more.
When the third fence went up, enclosing the food on three sides, the pigs barely noticed because they were so excited to play with the peanut butter toys.
When it started to the rain the next week, the farmer came out with a big umbrella. But his approach startled the pigs and they ran a short distance away before turning around to watch suspiciously. The farmer drove the umbrella into the ground and walked away. The pigs returned to the food and were delighted to stay dry while eating. The next time the farmer approached the pigs hardly paid him any mind.
Every day the pigs came into the U shaped corral to eat. They enjoyed the shade from the sun and rain. They stayed to play after each meal. And the farmer now regularly watched their antics with a friendly smile.
One day when the pigs were eating they heard loud howls off in the woods. Startled, they began to run but quickly realized they were running towards the sounds of the beasts. They bolted back into the three-sided pen and cowered in the corner. As the wolves emerged from the woods and advanced, the pigs squealed with fear.
But the farmer ran to their rescue and swung closed a metal gate–that the pigs had not noticed–forming the fourth and final fence of the square pen.
The canines approached and circled the pen but relief overcame the pigs as they realized they were safely protected by the fence. Soon they were back to eating and playing.
In fact, the pigs became so relaxed, that they didn’t even notice the dogs trot obediently beside the farmer as he walked back to the farmhouse.
The Pigs and Pens Today
We all know what happens to the pigs next. They aren’t pets. They are commodities to be slaughtered.
And I used to think of the slaughter quite literally. Considering past governments run by the likes of Stalin and Mao, this made sense. But the “slaughter” of most people caught by the farmer will not be literal.
It could be the butchering of a way of life as you abandon your small business to obtain healthcare working for a corporation. It could be killing your passion as they crack down on cryptocurrencies or arrest marijuana cultivators. It could be the death of privacy or self-sufficiency.
It could be the slaughtering of independence and freedom, as you depend on the government for food and housing. That is the most obvious lesson from the tale.
I always thought about the original pig story as a reference mostly to the welfare state. Clearly, the government is the farmer and he makes the pigs dependent on him with free handouts. Soon the pigs could not find their own food even if they wanted to.
The tale also refers to defense. The pigs never consider themselves trapped, only defended. After all, they have more within the pen than they ever had outside of it! And while wolves do exist in nature, the farmer did not have to fend off real wolves to convince the pigs they needed his protection.
Government “benefits” like “free” food and protection only make you weak and dependent.
But the farmer doesn’t have to represent a government. Tech companies these days offer free and cheap products and services. It’s fun and convenient to be a customer of these companies. But were the pigs the customer of the farmer?
Of course not. The pigs were the product. If a company isn’t making money from you, then you aren’t the customer, you are the product.
And this is the dilemma. The pigs could choose to eat out in the rain or play with rocks instead of peanut butter toys. But that is a lower quality of life. How do they take advantage of the umbrella and the peanut butter toy, without the farmer watching them?
I used to think the only solution was to remain a wild pig and go without the comforts of modern society. And I won’t lie; it sometimes seems tempting to go off grid and be self-sufficient.
Could the pigs have found natural shade? Yes, but not as advanced and well placed as the farmer’s umbrella. The pigs had food and fun in the wild, but not as easy and enticing as what the farmer provided.
Modern technology amplifies your efforts. There is more knowledge in the palm of your hand than in the largest library on Earth. There are more tools of production in the palm of your hand than existed on Earth 30 years ago. The infinite entertainment in the palm of your hand makes technology that much more appealing.
But there are ways to enjoy the comforts and benefits of modern technology without becoming trapped by it.
And although we have touched on the subject before, it deserves its own dedicated article.
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