How To Catch a Wild Pig: A Parable on Society

Recently, a colleague of mine sent me this piece called, “Catching the Wild Pig”.  Initially, I expected the gruesome kind of wild boar-hunting that I grew up with on Maui, and that my Valley Isle brethren and close friends still carry out up in Poli Poli Springs. But of course, this is simply a parable. Anyway, it was the first I heard about it and here it is:

A chemistry professor at a large college had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Professor noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, ‘Do you know how to catch wild pigs?’ The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. ‘You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again.

You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat; you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. While we continually lose our freedoms — just a little at a time.


While I found this fable interesting and captivating, we’re in a rather interesting dilemma here in the Hawaiian islands when it comes to wild pigs. I understand the whole notion of the “trapped” wild pigs and the problems that presents, but in places like Haleakala National Park on Maui, we are also experiencing what happens when you let the pigs go nuts and just run wild. I suppose the trouble we have in our political system is that we keep vacillating between taming the wild boar and letting them run wild. As with all in life, balance is critical, I think. What do you think?

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