That Squealing Second Pig

Ideology Meets Reality

I was reading an interesting anecdote yesterday which reminded me a lot of a story my mother-in-law would tell. The central character in yesterday’s tale was a Frenchman and tells how he gave up on Communism. When he discovered that, if/when Communism came into effect in France, he was going to lose half the francs he had saved, he dropped out of the Party.

Coins equal.Kevin schneider
Image: Kevin Schneider at Pixabay

The tale Mom told must have been adapted to the Canadian prairies. Apparently back in the 1920s and 30s, the goals of Communism sounded quite noble and had a fair bit of appeal to some average working people. Mom said it was quite common to hear people going on about how communism could make the world — or at least some people’s lot in life so much better.

As mom told it, two farmers were visiting and the one — I’ll call him Percy — was going on enthusiastically about how things would change for the better once the Communists took over in this country. Which they surely would, he assured his neighbour. I’ll call him Bert.

“There’ll be no more poverty, no more crime,” Percy was saying. “Everyone will work for the good of all. Everything will be shared equally. All those farmers with big herds and lots of land will have to share with the guy who has none.”

“So what you’re saying is that, if you had ten sheep you’d give me five,” Bert asked.

“That’s right.”

“And if you had four cows, you’d give me two?”

“Sure thing. That’s exactly how Communism will work. Everyone will have the same,” Percy assured him.

“And if you had two pigs, you’d give me one.”

“Yes, of course I… Now hold on here, Bert! You know I have two pigs!”

According to Mom, this was where Communism as a theory ran smack into the reality of human nature. People who have nothing are quite ready to receive, but as soon as they have to give up something themselves — like their second pig — the whole scheme breaks down.

In more recent years I read the account of a girl in the eastern States whose parents, along with many others during the 1930s, were so enthused about this ideology that they sent their children to a summer camp where socialism was taught and practiced as a model for future society. (Or where children would be indoctrinated, if you want to be a skeptic.)

The children at this camp would receive packages from their parents at home, and the rule of the camp was: “Whatever you get, you share with the others in your cabin.” One day she received a package from home and opened it. Her eyes lit up. Among other things her mother had sent along the girl’s favorite candy bar.

She reached for it eagerly, then thought about the sharing rule. She imagined her bar split six ways; it would give each of the cabin mates — herself included — a very small piece. Yes, she was supposed to share. But it was her bar; her mother sent it for her. Furtively she slipped it into her sweater pocket and hurried outside behind the cabin. Renouncing socialism, she ate the whole bar herself — and enjoyed every last bite.

Almost all of us seem to recognize that some government-enforced “public sharing” (like income tax) is necessary to keep things running efficiently. Communes may work for a time because membership is — at least initially — a voluntary thing. But Communism, that great theory of universal brotherhood and sharing, has proven unsuitable to human nature. And human nature has been a fairly constant thing through the years. 🙂

Sharing the Blooms

We’ve reached that time of year when our outdoor flowers are looking rather weary. The petunias in my planters haven’t frozen yet, but the sensitive marigolds around the edges wilted at the first hint of frost. Their brittle leaves don’t add much to the esthetics anymore.

I know we’ll have to start pulling up and tossing soon, but we’ve enjoyed the colorful display this summer and I was happy to learn one evening that we were sharing. At dusk I was standing on the deck when I noticed a hummingbird moth in the petunias, zipping from bloom too bloom, enjoying the sweetness of my flowers. I’ve seen it half a dozen times since — one evening I saw a smaller version, too.

Thinking of sharing good things, I found this little story somewhere and will share it with you, hoping this thought will inspire you, too, this morning.

A lady who was a great lover of flowers had set out a rare vine at the base of a stone wall. It grew vigorously, yet she saw no blooms. Day after day she cultivated and watered it to coax it into bloom.
One morning as she stood disappointedly before it, her invalid neighbour whose back lot adjoined hers, called over and said, “You can’t imagine how much I have been enjoying the blooms of what you planted!”
The lady who owned the plant looked, and on the other side of the wall was a mass of blooms. The vine had crept through the crevices and flowered luxuriantly on the other side.
So often we think our efforts are thrown away because we do not see their fruits. We need to learn that in the service of God our prayers, our toils, and our crosses are never in vain. Somewhere they bear fruit, and hearts will receive blessings and joy from our efforts.

–Author Unknown to me

The Way of a Wife

by Edgar Guest

She wasn’t hungry, so she said.
A salad and a cup of tea
was all she felt that she could eat,
but it was different with me.
“I’m rather hungry,” I replied.
“If you don’t mind, I think I’ll take
some oysters to begin with
and a good old-fashioned sirloin steak.”

Now wives are curious in this—
to make the statement blunt and straight—
there’s nothing tempts their appetites
like food upon another’s plate.
And when those oysters six appeared
she looked at them and said to me,
“Just let me try one, will you, dear?”
And right away she swallowed three.

On came the steak and promptly she
exclaimed, “Oh my that looks so good!
I think I’d like a bit of it.”
(The game is one I understood.)
I cut her off a healthy piece
and never whimpered when she said,
“Now just a few potatoes, dear,”
and also, “Let me share your bread.”

She wasn’t hungry! She’d refused
the food I had been glad to buy,
but on the meal which came for me
I know she turned a hungry eye.
She never cares for much to eat,
she’s dainty in her choice, I’ll state,
but she gets ravenous enough
to eat whatever’s on my plate.

From his book Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Word Press daily prompt: Better