Some years ago, around the turn of the 20th century, a traveller arrived to a small town just north of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and walked into the general store, where a handful of the locals mingled.
The traveler turned to the locals and asked, ‘Gentlemen, could you direct me to the Okefenokee Swamp?’
‘You must be a stranger in these parts?’ one of the locals said.
‘Yes, I’m from North Dakota,’ said the stranger, somewhat bemused at the locals’ reaction.
‘In the Okefenokee Swamp,’ explained one man, ‘there are hundreds of wild pigs, and a man who goes into the swamp by himself asks to die!’
The locals all then proceeded to show a range of injuries and maiming’s that had befallen them as a result of venturing – foolishly – into the swamp.
They explained, ‘Those pigs have been free for a hundred years, eating snakes, rooting out roots and fending for themselves. They’re wild and they’re dangerous. You can’t trap them. No man dare go into the swamp by himself.’
The locals then stood, incredulous, as the traveller – fearless of their warnings – then asked for directions to the swamp.
They begged the traveller not to go, fearing the fate that would surely await him.
Before leaving, the traveler asked for ten sacks of corn, and the locals helped load it onto his wagon, before he disappeared into the distance.
The locals thought it would be the last time they would see him alive.
Much to their dismay, two weeks later, the traveller arrived at the general store, and bought ten more sacks of corn.
He repeated this for the next two months.
One morning the traveller came into town as usual. He got off his wagon and went into the store where the locals gathered.
‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘I need to hire about ten or fifteen wagons. I need twenty or thirty men to help me.’
The locals stared, uncertain and bemused.
He continued, ‘I have 600 pigs out in the swamp, penned up, and they’re all hungry. I must get them to market right away.’
Of the shocked locals, only one had the courage to ask, ‘You mean you’ve captured the wild pigs of the Okefenokee?’
‘That’s right,’ replied the traveller, ‘and I need to get them to market today.’
The locals stared, unsure whether to laugh or to cry.
‘How on earth did you managed that?’ one of them asked.
‘Well,’ said the traveller, ‘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.’
‘Instead, I spread corn along behind the wagon. And every day I’d spread a sack of corn into the middle of a clearing. ‘
‘First the young pigs, but then the old pigs, couldn’t resist the lure of the easy food.’
‘They stooped fearing me and, one yard at a time, I built a pen. With their eyes and mind focused on the corn, they didn’t even notice the pen being erected around them.’
‘That’s not possible!’ Exclaimed one of the locals.
‘That’s not hunting!’ Shouted another
‘Oh yes it is,’ said the traveller. ‘And this morning, I shut the gate’.
The point of this story, adapted from George Gordon, is to:
- Challenge old methods – or risk failing to develop
- Continue to think and be aware – or risk inertia and capture
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