Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp

The following parable has been shared many times by email and on sites on the Internet, and for good reason.  It tells of the relation between freedom and independence.  The details of its origin are not clear, but it was told by George Gordon, and this transcript is credited to Steve Washam. 

The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp

Some years ago, about 1900, an old trapper from North Dakota hitched up some horses to his Studebaker wagon, packed a few possessions--especially his traps--and drove south. Several weeks later he stopped in a small town just north of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. It was a Saturday morning--a lazy day--when he walked into the general store. Sitting around the pot-bellied stove were seven or eight of the town's local citizens. The traveler spoke, "Gentlemen, could you direct me to the Okefenokee Swamp?" Some of the oldtimers looked at him like he was crazy.

"You must be a stranger in these parts," they said.

"I am. I'm from North Dakota," said the stranger.

"In the Okefenokee Swamp are thousands of wild hogs," one old man explained, "A man who goes into the swamp by himself asks to die!"

He lifted up his leg. "I lost half my leg here, to the pigs of the swamp."

Another old fellow said, "Look at the cuts on me; look at my arm bit off!" "Those pigs have been free since the Revolution, eating snakes and rooting out roots and fending for themselves for over a hundred years. They're wild and they're dangerous. You can't trap them. No man dare go into the swamp by himself."

Every man nodded his head in agreement.

The old trapper said, "Thank you so much for the warning. Now could you direct me to the swamp?"

They said, "Well, yeah, it's due south--straight down the road." But they begged the stranger not to go, because they knew he'd meet a terrible fate.

He said, "Sell me ten sacks of corn, and help me load them into the wagon."

And they did.

Then the old trapper bid them farewell and drove on down the road. The townsfolk thought they'd never see him again.

Two weeks later the man came back. He pulled up to the general store, got down off the wagon, walked in and bought ten more sacks of corn. After loading it up he went back down the road toward the swamp.

Two weeks later he returned and, again, bought ten sacks of corn.

This went on for a month; Then two months, and then three. Every week or two the old trapper would come into town on a Saturday morning, load up ten sacks of corn and drive off south into the swamp. The stranger soon became a legend in the little village and the subject of much speculation. People wondered what kind of devil had possessed this man, that he could go into the Okefenokee by himself and not be consumed by the wild and free hogs.

One morning the man came into town as usual. Everyone thought he wanted more corn.

He got off the wagon and went into the store where the usual group of men were gathered around the stove. He took off his gloves. "Gentlemen," he said, "I need to hire about ten or fifteen wagons. I need twenty or thirty men. I have six thousand hogs out in the swamp, penned up, and they're all hungry. I've got to get them to market right away." "You've WHAT in the swamp?" asked the storekeeper, incredulously. "I have six thousand hogs penned up. They haven't eaten for two or three days, and they'll starve if I don't get back there to feed and take care of them."

One of the old timers said, "You mean you've captured the wild hogs of the Okefenokee?"

"That's right."

"How did you do that? What did you do?" the men urged, breathlessly. One of them exclaimed, "But I lost my arm!"

"I lost my brother!" cried another.

"I lost my leg to those wild boars!" chimed a third. The trapper said, "Well, the first week I went in there they were wild all right. They hid in the undergrowth and wouldn't come out. I dared not get off the wagon. So I spread corn along behind the wagon. Every day I'd spread a sack of corn.

"The old pigs would have nothing to do with it. But the younger pigs decided that it was easier to eat free corn than it was to root out roots and catch snakes. So the very young began to eat the corn first. "I did this every day. Pretty soon, even the old pigs decided that it was easier to eat free corn, after all, they were all free; they were not penned up. They could run off in any direction they wanted at any time. "The next thing was to get them used to eating in the same place all the time. So, I selected a clearing, and I started putting the corn in the clearing.

"At first they wouldn't come to the clearing. It was too far. It was too open. It was a nuisance to them.

"But the very young decided that it was easier to take the corn in the clearing than it was to root out roots and catch their own snakes. And not long thereafter, the older pigs also decided that it was easier to come to the clearing every day.

"And so the pigs learned to come to the clearing every day to get their free corn. They could still subsidize their diet with roots and snakes and whatever else they wanted. After all, they were all free. They could run in any direction at any time. There were no bounds upon them. "The next step was to get them used to fence posts. So I put fence posts all the way around the clearing. I put them in the underbrush so that they wouldn't get suspicious or upset, after all, they were just sticks sticking up out of the ground, like the trees and the brush. The corn was there every day. It was easy to walk in between the posts, get the corn, and walk back out.

"This went on for a week or two. Shortly they became very used to walking into the clearing, getting the free corn, and walking back out through the fence posts.

"The next step was to put one rail down at the bottom. I also left a few openings, so that the older, fatter pigs could walk through the openings and the younger pigs could easily jump over just one rail, after all, it was no real threat to their freedom or independence--they could always jump over the rail and flee in any direction at any time.

"Now I decided that I wouldn't feed them every day. I began to feed them every other day. On the days I didn't feed them, the pigs still gathered in the clearing. They squealed, and they grunted, and they begged and pleaded with me to feed them-- but I only fed them every other day. Then I put a second rail around the posts.

"Now the pigs became more and more desperate for food. Because now they were no longer used to going out and digging their own roots and finding their own food, they now needed me. They needed my corn every other day." "So I trained them that I would feed them every day if they came in through a gate and I put up a third rail around the fence.

"But it was still no great threat to their freedom, because there were several gates and they could run in and out at will. "Finally I put up the fourth rail. Then I closed all the gates but one, and I fed them very, very well."

"Yesterday I closed the last gate and today I need you to help me take these pigs to market."


     The lesson in this parable is that the "free" tax money is a bait that leads to a trap with an intention to enslave those that were independent.  Men that were independent become used to having "benefits" that come from subsidies like vouchers for private schools, welfare, farm programs, Medicaid and Medicare. In the recording, (see below) Gordon says that Social Security is part of this trap. 

     Below you can hear this tale as George Gordon re-told it.  Recorded in 1986 at a barn-full of farmers gathering in Kearney, Nebraska.

Sources with commentary:


Audio Source:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Free Man that Works From Home

My sister, Hannah, took this picture of me inspecting a bee
hive in a sunflower field this summer.
    It's been a little over one year since I left the only factory job I've worked and became a "free man" (I'll explain more about this term later).  Since I was a teenager my family had drilled it into me that you want to work from home.  My dad would express his desire to do this and passed that desire to me.  After more than five years of working in a factory I knew without a doubt that the dreams my family had for me were my dreams also.  I recognised the limit of time in the day and by coming home I could pursue my dreams with less fetters.
     I was talking with another beekeeper recently and he told me some interesting things about our factory culture.  He reassured me that the factory mindset in the people all around us is not a mistake or just something that happened out of convenience, but was planned.  I knew about some of these things because as a teenager I had helped put together information for people in our local school district about Outcome Based Education (OBE).  I helped a group of concerned parents to alert the community about how their children would be trained to the specifications of big companies. Instead of teaching children basic skills so they could pursue their own dreams they were to be trained according to what large companies wanted them to learn in a cookie-cutter fashion. My beekeeper acquaintance told me how factories are purposely built without windows so people don't think about the outside world. This also stops the employees from thinking as much about time. He said that these things started with Henry Ford's company. Schools have been working at this for a long time. They would start the day with a bell.  (Oh yes, I remember in parochial school the old bell that went off to start the day.)  After a few years the young people would graduate (where did they come up with that term?) and go to work for Mr. Ford. In the factory the day started off with a bell. Indeed, they were being programmed. You see, the factories had tried to hire the old farmers, but it didn't work. The old farmers would not be forced to stand in one spot all day doing the same mindless thing in the sunless buildings. No, man was not created to behave like this. They would have to be trained.

     He then went on to tell me how he had hired young people to do work out in a vineyard.  He said he watched them literally melt.  They didn't know what to do without their music.   They couldn't face themselves.   Most factories have music because of their unnatural environment.  It's another way to get people's minds off from time, and even facing themselves.   He reminded me that there is something very special about just going to a bee yard and only hearing the buzzing of bees and having your own thoughts. 

Here I am promoting my small business (Standing Stone
Honey) at a local farmers market.  It has been a good
learning experience.
      One exciting thing about working for yourself is that you can have the freedom to make things and do things in better ways. This can happen in a factory, but I remember how this freedom was squashed at times, and things proceeded inefficiently. Helpful information might be shared, but someone else would seek to take the credit. Many times I wanted to learn something new, but was not permitted to. In a home business you are not as limited in these things, but the risks that come along with with responsibility are all on you. In a factory setting it is not uncommon that a person finds himself surrounded by people that want to advance themselves and are happy to crush others to make themselves look better in the process. There was a report that was in the news a while back that was based on a college study that told how gruff, unthoughtful people are more likely to find job advancements over friendly, agreeable people. This is probably true to some degree and the problem gets worst as people with more power seemingly have the ability show their bad side with impunity. There could be a debate about whether power corrupts or if power reveals. Another piece to that puzzle is that corrupt people are most powerfully attracted to power.
       Getting back to the term "free man." In the Bible it is used to refer to a man that is not a slave.  There are parallels with slavery and being an employee.  The wage hours do not belong to the employee.  He has sold himself during those hours.  I still remember a doctor that worked for a clinic.  He and my Dad talked about the desire to work for themselves.  The doctor recognized the benefits he would have if he owned his own office.  It helped me to see the position many doctors find themselves in and why people often end up being just numbers when they come to a big hospital.  The wage earning doctor has to make a quota like a factory man, and the people coming to him end up being a number to fill that quota.

    I mentioned before that in a factory setting credits often go to the wrong places.  Such is life.  My Dad told me again and again growing up that "life is not fair."  As a believer in Christ I want Christ to get the credit for the right things I do.  This credit needs to go to Christ whether at a factory job or a home business.  In fact, the Bible says that the man that is "free" is "Christ's servant."  If you're working at home the opportunities to glorify Christ could be greater.  If you have greater freedom, it is that much more opportunity to use that freedom to serve Christ.  This is why Scripture says, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." Now we can serve Christ with less freedom, but if you can be free be free like Saint Paul said,  "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.  I understand that these passages are to be understood in the context of slavery and freedom, but I believe we can apply them to our lives in the same way as the New Testament believers by recognizing that God wants us more free to serve Him.  I believe the parallels between the free man and the entrepreneur are striking.  The decision to run a home business needs to be done with prayer and understanding as it is likely that rash decisions in starting a business could lead to greater bondage rather than freedom and would bring a quick realization of the saying, "better the devil you know."  Be it known that taking some risks is a part of living in a free society.

     For fathers I recommend that you instill it into your children that "if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."  Help them to be able to think for themselves by giving them responsibilities over certain areas.  In whatever lot of life we are in we can live free.  We could be in prison, and yet in our heart be more free than a king in his palace.   I think this is why Paul says, "he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman."  Those that belong to Christ are His servants whether they control their own hours or not because He bought them.  It needs to be our goal to seek to make our lives more free to serve Him.  When we are doing our jobs, building a business or punching in the time clock it is important to not lose sight of why we do it.  Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."  For the believer in Christ this works out in building God's kingdom; that is the end purpose of our occupation.  May God grant us the wisdom to fulfill our purpose.

    The writer of the following poem is unknown, but I believe it fits well with what has been said.

Measure thy life by loss instead of gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but the wine poured forth;
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And whoso suffers most hath most to give.
For labor, the common lot of man,
Is part of the kind Creator's plan;
And he is a king whose brow is wet
With the pearl-gemmed crown of honest sweat.
Some glorious day, this understood,
All toilers will be a brotherhood,
With brain or hand the purpose is one,
And the Master-workman, God's only Son.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Great Fire In London

The following story of the Great Fire of London is reprinted from an old Children's Magazine I have that was printed in 1885.  A lesson learned by the main character is the uncertain nature of riches.   
In this sketch, from the 1885 Children's Magazine,
people are seen throwing their possesions out the
windows of the buildings.
     Nearly two hundred years ago, Little Amy Seymour and her brother Herbert had come up from the country with their mother, to pass a few weeks in London. They were spending the day with their aunt, Mrs. Marsden, who lived in the suburbs of the city, about a mile from London Bridge. It was the 2nd of September, 1666, and the children were delighted, as children usually are, with the novelty of a visit to the city. Their aunt was very kind to them, and they enjoyed themselves very much. In the evening, she was telling them of the dreadful plague which had visited the city the year before, when 130,000 people died of it in London alone.
It was getting late, quite time for the children to go to bed, when Mrs. Marsden's servant, Rachel, came in, looking very much frightened.
"What is the matter?" said Mrs. Marsden, anxiously.
"Oh dear! ma'am," said Rachel, "I have just heard there is such a fire in London! it has burnt down a baker's shop near the bridge, and the engine they used for bringing up the water out of the Thames is burnt too! and they are afraid it will reach the wooden storehouses."
"Oh! I hope it is not so bad as you make out, Rachel," said Mrs. Marsden, in a cheerful voice, for she saw that Amy looked frightened; "there have been fires in London before today; at all events, we are far enough from the danger; so go to bed, my dear children, and I hope you will enjoy comfortable and refreshing sleep."
"I do not think I shall sleep much, Herbert," whispered Amy as they left the room; "that dreadful account of the plague, and now this terrible fire, will be in my thoughts all night."
     "Oh! dear Amy, don't be frightened," replied Herbert, in a soothing tone. "The plague was last year, you know, so that is over; and as to the fire, very likely it has baked some of the bakers loaves for him, and is put out by this time. Poor Rachel is a poor timid creature, and, I suppose, has made the most of the story. Good night, dear sister, and pleasant dreams to you."
      Though Herbert spoke so lightly of the fire to reassure Amy, yet he did not think lightly of it. He knew that most of the houses being built of wood, there was much danger of the flames spreading. On reaching his bedroom, he opened his window and looked out. He distinctly saw the fire, which appeared a large one, and cast a red glare on all around it. There was a strong gale of wind blowing at the time, which every now and then dispersed the thick clouds of smoke, and increased the violence of the flames. The shouts and yells of the mob, the church bells ringing an alarm, the people hurrying along to see the fire, the cry from some one, "That all Fishstreet was in a blaze, and the pipes from the New River were found to be dry," proved altogether so exciting to Herbert, that it was hours before he could close his eyes in sleep; and even when he did, he was constantly startled by the loud and awful cry of "Fire, fire."
      At an early hour the next morning, all in Mrs. Marsden's house were stirring. Early as it was, people were seen hurrying from the city, some with such small articles of furniture as they had been able to save, others, who, in that fearful night, with children or aged parents, had lost their all. From these poor wanderers they learned that the fire was raging with increased fury; that all attempts to stop its progress were vain, and that the people were nearly out of their senses with terror. The weather for some time previously had been very dry, and this, added to the wind, the want of water, and the rapidity with which the wooden storehouses ignited, seemed to render all efforts fruitless.
"My mother must be alarmed," said Herbert; "she has no one with her; she will be thinking of us I must go to her."
     "Impossible, my dear boy said his aunt; "your mother is at the West-end, far away from the fire. It would be exceedingly dangerous for you to attempt such a thing."
    "But suppose she should be terribly frightened, and should come to seek us? Oh! aunt, pray let me go to my dear mother, I will take care of myself! Goodbye; farewell, dearest Amy;" an without another word the boy rushed from the house.
     Old London Bridge was very different from the present one. Crowded with ill-built houses, it was in a blaze when Herbert arrived there. The scene was truly lamentable. Mothers screaming for their missing children, old people imploring help, goods tossed about in all directions, and no one seeming to know what to do in terrific confusion. The atmosphere was of a fiery darkness, and the thick smoke hid the sky from view. The river was crowded with every description of barges, boats, rafts, timber, furniture, bedding; the heat was intense, and altogether, the horrors of the scene made poor Herbert so sick and giddy, he was glad to sit down on a stone to recover himself. Finding it impossible to continue his perilous walk, he slowly retraced his steps to Mrs. Marsden's.
     Thames-street was now a heap of red-hot ruins, Grace-church-street was all in a blaze, and Lombard and Fen-church streets were on fire. The churches, towering above all, were blazing to their very summits.

     O the horrors of that day! The bewildered and terrified people gazed at the burning mass of houses with a kin of stupefied awe; the streets were choked up with furniture; and the hours rolled on amidst shrieks, lamentations, and the noise of falling buildings.

     And all that day, and all the following night, the dreadful devastation continued. Cheapside, Bucklersbury, Walbrook, Threadneedle-street, the Royal Exchange, were all a mass of smoking ruins.

     The next morning, the multitude gazed with awe on the sublime sight of the magnificent St. Paul's on fire. The wild roar of the flames as they shot upwards, the lead melting on the roof and running down in streams, the deafening uproar of the falling masses of stone, the feeling of utter uselessness of all efforts to save the stupendous structure, the horror-stricken, silent multitude, as the bright-red volleys of flame leaped higher and higher, formed a grand and striking spectacle.
     The fire at this time could be seen at forty miles' distance from London, and the thick, black clouds of smoke spread around for fifty miles.
     The sky above was like a vault of red-hot brass; the air was stifling with the oppressive heat; the pavement of the streets glowed so intensely, that it was painful for man or horse to stand upon it. The people, who appeared stunned with the greatness of the calamity, were recalled to recollection by the spirited and noble conduct of King Charles and his brother, the Duke of York. Going on horseback down to the burning mass, they gave orders that whole rows of houses be pulled down. By thus cutting off communication between the fire and its aliment, it was at length stayed. Charles showed great presence of mind and activity in the measures he took to save his capital from total destruction; and by his presence, early and late, encouraged the workmen to persevere.
      Thus, after raging for three days and three nights, this great fire was subdued; terrible as it was while it lasted, nothing could surpass the dreadful magnificence of the sight! Thirteen thousand two hundred houses, with eighty-nine churches were reduced to ashes in that fearful conflagration!
      The flames commencing at London Bridge, burnt every thing westward as far as Temple-bar, and extended northward to Smithfield and Holborn.
     On the 8th of September, Herbert again attempted to join his mother. Crossing the river in a boat, he proceeded onwards, though with great difficulty; the scene of desolation was most melancholy! The falling ruins, the dust and heaps of rubbish, rendered the road at times impassable, and so altered was the aspect of the city, that frequently the boy knew not where he was. The ground was so hot that the soles of his shoes were burnt; and the smell of consumed and consuming substances was almost unbearable. But the love for his mother impelled Herbert forward. As he walked, he thought of the mercy of God, which spared him, and of the uncertain nature of worldly riches. Many, who three days before had been worth thousands, were now beggars!
     Over calcined stones, amidst blackened and falling timbers, and through sad groups of desolation and misery, Herbert at length arrived at his mother's lodgings. Her heart had been overwhelmed with anxiety for her children; and she clasped her boy in her arms with heartfelt gratitude.
     In a few days Amy joined them, and the following week they were all glad to return to their peaceful home in the country. Amy never forgot the description she had heard of the plague, nor what she had witnessed of The Great Fire.
     Fortunately, few lives were lost; but the distress of so many people, thus driven into the streets, most of them with the loss of all their property, is past description.
     The monument, now standing in London, was built by Sir Christopher Wren, (the great architect who rebuilt St. Paul's Cathedral.) It was placed on the very spot where the fire commenced. May God in His mercy spare the city another such calamity!
      "Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-marrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
                                                        St. James, iv. 13-15.

Source: The Children's Magazine Volume XXVII .....For 1885 Edited by  J. A. Spencer, D.D.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Children Taken From Caring Parents At Gunpoint

Homeschooling Home Raided in Germany 
The two older Wunderlich children stand outside the government school they
are forced to attend
     In August of 2013 a judge ordered the removal of four children (ages 7-14) from their parents, Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they homeschool in Germany which is against current laws in Germany.  A SWAT-style raid was made of their home and the children were removed at gunpoint.  They had just started their homeschool day when they heard the doorbell ring.  Dirk went to see a large group of people with guns approaching the house.  This is his description as related to Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA):
“I looked through a window and saw many people, police, and special agents, all armed. They told me they wanted to come in to speak with me. I tried to ask questions, but within seconds, three police officers brought a battering ram and were about to break the door in, so I opened it."

“The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first.” ... “It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion.”

 Dirk said that his 14-year-old daughter Machsejah had to be forcibly taken out of the home.  He said,

“When I went outside, our neighbor was crying as she watched. I turned around to see my daughter being escorted as if she were a criminal by two big policemen. They weren’t being nice at all. When my wife tried to give my daughter a kiss and a hug goodbye, one of the special agents roughly elbowed her out of the way and said—‘It’s too late for that.’ What kind of government acts like this?”

     The parents were threatened by the police that they would not see their children "anytime soon."  The children were forcefully taken from the sanctuary of their home to places undisclosed to their parents.  The children were taken to a group home and forced to be tested (for which the family was later given a bill for nearly $20,000).  They were found to be doing well both socially and academically.  After 21 days of captivity and an international outcry they were returned to their parents, but only after forcing the parents to agree to send the children to the government school.  The parents agreed to send their children to the school for the time being.  This is how Dirk described it:

The younger children entering the
school on their first day in the system
“What other choice did we have?” .... “They had our children. We feel ravaged by the government. We don’t want our children in school but we have no choice—we can’t leave and if we don’t comply they will take our children away. We will make the best of it because we know if we tried to leave, the authorities would separate us and we might never see our children again or for a very long time.”

     The situation has disrupted their close-knit family life, but the children are adapting to their environment quite well considering the situation they find themselves in.  Dirk describes what the children are now experiencing:

“Now the little ones go to school from 8–12:30 and the elder until 1:00. We are home together for lunch. Then they have homework to do,” he said. “The children find it strange and have commented on how confusing the school environment is. They tell me ‘Papa, the teacher takes a lot of time explaining what we must do and telling the other children to be quiet. We don’t get to actually do most work until we get home.’ My youngest son says he misses working on his projects.”

“I think homeschooling is much more effective because you can actually do the work and don’t have to lose time on all the other things that go into school.” ... “We hope with all our heart to get back to homeschooling somehow.”

      The family has desired to emigrate to a neighboring country where homeschooling is legal, but the judge has made it clear that if they go anywhere before a December hearing they will face criminal sanctions.  The judge vowed to hunt them down if they were to get over the border.  Hundreds of homeschool families have fled the country including the high profile Romeike family.

     Of all rights that a person might have in a country I believe that the ability of a parent to raise and train his own children is among the top. It is among those things that are called unalienable rights because God gave children to parents and not the state. The most fundamental rights are being challenged today. Though our culture has a tendency of looking at children simply as a product of biology that we choose to have or not to have, it does not change the fact that they are eternal souls given to parents by the everlasting Creator on loan. We learn from the teachings of Jesus Christ that those that harm children are under a curse. It is a fearful thing to think of the consequences that will be faced by those that would seek to remove them from their rightful guardians.  The Wunderlich family recognise the lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ and live their lives and follow their conscience guided by their deep abiding faith in God.

     There are barriers in Germany that prevent freedom of education because the country has been seeped in cultural and educational conformity for many years.  The recognition of unalienable rights is not understood by many, and some people have even seen this persecuted family as criminals.  This family is only practicing what millions of families in the United States do every day.  People of faith.... Pray.  Lovers of freedom.... speak out for those that are oppressed. It is my prayer that by sharing this story that more people will find the idea of viewing parents simply as incubators of statist property to be repulsive and that actions will taken to ensure that educational freedom prevails throughout the United States, Germany and other countries.  

German homeschoolers come to the support of the
Wunderlich family.