In 760 AD or thereabouts the fortress city in southern France now known as Carcassonne was under siege by the Franks. Food and water were running low; the Franks were expecting surrender any day. The Saracen lord of the place was dead; but his widow, Dame Carcas, had an idea. She convinced everyone to feed all of their remaining grain to a pig she donated. The people starved but the pig grew fat. She had it thrown off the tower. "'S'Wounds," said the commander of the Franks; "if they can waste a pig like this, they're eating better than we are. We're outta here; try someplace easier." Dame Carcas had the city bells rung all day in triumph, and the city was renamed for the sounds: Carcas sonne or Carcas rings. May also be where the saying about flying pigs came from.
Imagine the civic trust that went into that exercise. Suppose that it was us – the US – in that city and there was a similar proposal about feeding the remaining grain to a sacrificial pig.
The rich object that it is an unfair tax since they own most of the grain. They threaten to leave the city.
Advocates for the poor object that the poor have too little grain already.
Congress demands an investigation of the speculators believed to have caused high grain prices. Then they declare a siege recess.
President Obama cautions against unilateral fattening and urges a strong statement from the UN – or he might send the Seals. Depends on the day.
Republican candidates take polls.
But suppose by some miracle the grain is gathered and the swine duly stuffed. Then we still have a problem:
PETA doesn't want the pig tossed.
The investment bankers say they will leave the city if they are not allowed to eat the pig themselves.
Congress comes back from recess and wants to dismember the pig and distribute it inside the city as pork.
And, if the fatted pig is thrown:
Some twit might tweet that he is starving and give away the whole game.
So, we need a more modern idea:
We use Meetup to arrange an actual meeting in the city square.
We agree to send each other Facebook invites for fabulous feasts and friend the besiegers to be sure they know what's going down. We like all the foodstuffs in town. It's called tweeting the pig.
But, more important, we need to learn to trust each other again – and be worthy of the trust.