Many years ago I had a conversation with an older woman from the Czech Republic. She came to the USA to escape communism and she said that recently she sees things here in America that make her fear that The United States is most definitely headed in that direction. But how, I asked? Slowly, she said, people lost more and more the will to fight the state as they were threatened with losing their ability to live and survive. She also said something only recently I recalled. She said it got to the point where the people “were begging for communism.”
Many years later, while working as a second grade teacher in the city, we were reading “Charlotte”s Web.” Buried within this well-known children’s book, is a lesson overlooked by the liberal teachers I worked with and likely lost on the young students. At one point during the story, the protagonist, Wilbur the pig, has an opportunity to escape from the confines of his pen. The farmer absentmindedly left the gate to the pig pen open. Wilbur looks out to the vast and beautiful fields and the forest that lies beyond it. He notices the animals outside happily enjoying their freedom. For a moment he realizes this opportunity for freedom in front of him. He is egged on by the goose and the others to “Run!” “Run for the hills!”. So he runs and the farmer noticing from his window, runs after him with a pail of slop. But something gives Wilbur pause. He hesitates as he stares ahead into the unknown. Although the other animals cheered him on, they themselves did not try to escape. It dawns on him that maybe living in his small pig pen was not that bad. He had a bed of straw. He had a pail of slop to eat twice a day. He would be with all the others instead of alone. After all, he had no idea what waited in the woods beyond the meadow. Wilbur could have gotten away, yet he decided that security is more important than freedom, and he would rather be enslaved with the others than go out on his own. So he returned to the pen. Quickly the farmer locked the gate behind him.