Monday, May 5, 2008

How do you catch wild pigs?

There was a Chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Prof 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, which 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.

There is a lot to be said concerning government entitlement programs, not all of it is bad. But I want to address the entitlement programs in our lives, the ones that we create for our own benefit. They are the short cuts in our lives that at the time seem expedient, but later sap us of the drive end energy to push through much harder issues.

In college I took four semesters of calculus. Four mind numbing semesters of proving theorems that were printed in the back of our CRC. It was a slow and repetitive process that didn’t seem to have a goal other than to make us work harder. Once I got to Differential Equations and Applied Differential Equations I understood why. This process of proving what had already been proven provided me with the framework to analyze much more complex ideas. The hard work in the beginning prepared me for the work ahead. I could validate amazing concepts that previously seemed impossible to comprehend. (Calculating the center of mass of an irregular object) Many students never got to “Diffy Q” to see the fruits of their labor.

How many times are we so busy multitasking that we lose the lessons that eventually imprisons us in mediocrity? We are looking for a free lunch thinking that it will always be free. The problem is that it will be free as long as you never want to be more than you are. We slowly lose our ability to think outside the box. Psychosclerosis sets in. We become so convinced that new ideas won’t work, that we lose the ability to move forward and grow. We start to love the fences around us. They bring us comfort. We start to believe we will always be able to provide for ourselves and our families using only the skills, talents and knowledge we presently have. We can somehow start to coast to the finish line. I see this happening to younger and younger generations


Continually strive to stretch your imagination and knowledge. Go through the pain and sometimes boredom required to grow. Never stop. It will pay tremendous dividends for years to come.

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have." - Thomas Jefferson

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