Several years ago I was supervising a beginning teacher in a city school system. One day during our end-of-the-day feedback conference, the young man gave a facial grimace and began to rub his back. I asked him if he had strained his back in the school lab.
After a long period of silence, he sat down at his desk and explained that he had immigrated to the United States because of political problems in his native country. The discomfort in his back was caused by a bullet wound he had received while fighting the Communists who were trying to take over his country's government. He was then a member of the underground nationalist force.
Then he asked me a surprising question: "Dr. Hedges, do you know how to catch a wild hog?"
The question was completely out of context regarding the day's classroom and lab teaching. I replied, "I'm not sure what you are talking about. Tell me."
"First," he said, "you find out where the wild hogs are roaming and feeding and then you put some corn out in the field. Soon they will come to eat the corn. You keep putting out the free corn. More wild hogs keep coming to eat the corn."
"So what?" I said. "That's normal for any animal."
"Be patient. I will tell you what comes next," he said. "After the hogs get used to your free corn, you put up a length of fence along one side of the feeding area. The hogs get used to it. You keep giving them the corn. Then you put up another section of fence at right angles to the first. You keep giving them the corn. The hogs get used to the second fence. Then you put up another length of fence at right angles to the second section."
"You now have a U-shaped fenced area. The hogs get used to that section of the fence. You keep giving them free corn. Then you put another section of fence with a gate in it, making a closed area except for the gate. You keep giving them corn. Now, the hogs no longer are out in the fields, working to find their own food. They keep coming into the area to eat the free corn. They get used to the fenced area with the open gate. Then, one day you slam shut the gate when the hogs are inside the fenced area. The wild hogs are caught - they are your prisoners."
I understood then that the wild hogs were really the people of his native country and that the free corn was the enticements that the Communists were giving to the people.
"That's correct," the young man said. "Now, the hogs will not get anything to eat unless you give them food. You are in control. They depend on you to feed them, or they will starve. They can't get out into the fields and forests anymore to find their own food. They have probably forgotten how, as it is. They are your servants, your prisoners. They must obey you. Or else they starve."
"The hogs," he said, "were so accustomed to having the free corn, that they ignored the building of the fences that would eventually trap them. When the gate slammed shut, it was too late for them to realize what they had been blind to. The free corn was enticing, so effortless to obtain, but eventually the cause of their loss of freedom. The fence had been built; the gate had been shut."
At this point in our conversation, the young teacher, in a voice shaking with emotion and with fists hitting the desktop, loudly exclaimed, "This is what I see happening in America today! People are being offered free corn by the government. People are blind to the fences being built around them by the liberals - the socialists - and that is what frightens me! Just like it was happening in my homeland. The American people do not learn from history. And history shows that socialism/communism does not work."
"Take note of Russia. Has socialism been the best thing that ever happened to that country? Absolutely not! But socialism is what the American people are being fed, and they don't realize it. All they can focus on is the 'free corn.' They want more and more of the free corn. And this free corn is being fed to us little by little, and soon the gate will slam shut. I am very frightened, and also amazed, that the American people don't see what is being fed us, and for what purpose." With that said, the young man sat down at his desk and continued to rub his painful back.
And I was silent in my chair. And afraid. For I could visualize the supposedly "free corn" being fed to our nation's people and our growing addiction to the "free corn". And I could see the gate being slammed shut. We, the people of the United States of America, because of our ignorance of history, because of our addiction to the supposedly "free corn," could soon be prisoners of liberal socialism.
Along with this fighter for freedom from socialism/communism, I too, wanted to slam my fists on the desktop and cry out in a loud voice for all to hear, "Wake up, America! The fences are being built! Don't you see what is happening to us?" In the agenda of the new Congress governed by liberal socialists, there is much "free corn" being promised to the American people. In our greed for this "free corn," will we ignore the incremental building of the fences and the inevitable shutting of the gate? As I ponder the building of the fences now underway by the new Congress, I remember the old adage, "there is always free cheese in a mousetrap."
It seems the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.