New Cow Syndrome

Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning.  The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.  I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor.  There was no end to all the people who were before them.  But those who came later were not pleased with the successor.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  Ecclesiastes 4:13-16.


At first glance much of the subjects Solomon brings up seem to be redundant, mostly because he keeps repeating the thought:  meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  However, every time he brings up a new example of his point we see how far reaching this problem of chasing after the wind has grown.  It’s not that he’s just bitter and whining about how things are pointless, but that life really has no purpose without eternity in the mix.  A person can be the most talented being since the world began yet once he or she dies, all their work will be forgotten in a generation or two—if that long—and so come to nothing.  It almost seems like wasted effort.

Yet Solomon isn’t telling us our accomplishments are completely wasted effort merely that when we do so in order to replace someone else or make a name for ourselves we need to consider whether or not it’s worth it.

I watched a movie years ago that made a joke out of men’s inability to commit and called it the “new cow syndrome”—quoting the example of bulls preferring a new cow to mate with once they were finished with the current one.  The whole point is that the reason men get bored with their current girlfriend or wife is because they have already had them and so want something new.  Solomon uses something similar in his example of the young man becoming king.

In our political system here in America we see much the same problem.  Currently Barak Obama is president of the United States.  He was such a popular candidate because he was 1) mixed race but looked black, 2)  a democrat with socialism leanings (not communism), 3) had grown up in a single parent household 4) became wealthy through hard work and dedication.  There is much to admire about him, though I disagree with some of his politics and policies.  From what can be ascertained he seems like a pretty decent dude and cares for people genuinely.  What’s ironic is that many who supported him because he was the first black candidate with a chance to win now want someone else, proving Solomon’s point.

The human race is looking for a replacement god.  For a time it was the new king, duke or earl, mayor or local elder, now it’s celebrities and politicians.  Unfortunately, the bad taste after the initial couple of bites has begun to sour our perspective and ruin our appetite.  I don’t know what we were expecting but celebrities and politicians are merely human beings who have made it into the spotlight.  They are no more capable of handling fame and fortune than anyone else—though some might have grown up in with these things.  The human tendency to seek pleasure even when it means censure if caught remains true in this arena as much has it does in back alley.

It starts at birth pretty much.  We see it after birthdays and special holidays like Christmas where kids get a present they’re excited about for 40 seconds then a week later it’s left outside in the rain and they could care less.  When we’re older it’s getting our license or being able to drink, when that gets old it becomes whatever’s next, marriage, jobs, houses, cars, and the list could go on and on.  But we’re never happy with any of it for long.  It’s no wonder Solomon exclaimed,  All things are full of weariness…

I once read an “Archie Comics” evangelistic booklet where Archie said to Jughead,  “Money doesn’t buy happiness, Jughead!”  “No,” came the reply, “but it make misery a lot more fun!”

It’s true as far as it goes.  We might not be happy, but at least we’re having fun, and for most of us that’s as close as it gets.  I think Paul said it best, Godliness with contentment is great gain.  The strangest thing imaginable to me is the fact that we get toys we’re not content to own—and I’m talking about adults here as well.  A guy gets a fishing boat but sees a “better” one than he has and just has to work, save or go in debt to get it.  All the while the boat he has is quite sufficient for his needs.

At the same time it’s not a sin or even faithless to want certain things.  Some people need a new car cuz the one they have is causing them no end of trouble.  Others, like me, want a few things that would add to the mix of their goals but are not necessarily vital.  For instance, I’d love to own or rent a Marshall JCM 800 50/100 watt amp with a 4 x 12 cab to record some of my guitar parts.  I can’t afford it and don’t plan on going into debt to get it, so I’ll be content with the Fender Hot Rod DeVille 4 x 10 I have that’s fully paid for and works fine.  Sure it doesn’t get the crunch I want for certain songs, but I can work with its sound to make it happen.  And if you’re honest, there are things you want but don’t necessarily need to make your hobbies or jobs work.

All this to say:  the best we can do is to learn the principle of content and teach our children to practice it as well.  The local politician, celebrity, social group, spouse, children or whatever can wear us down, so take a break and enjoy them for a time instead of working at them.  I don’t believe we need to be satisfied with everything, unless it meets our goals.  But I do believe that in Christ we must learn to be content with what is “out loud” so that our children as well as those who watch our lives see a testimony of what the presence of Christ does for those who believe.  Without this contentment our witness is spitting into the wind and chasing rainbows for gold instead of life.


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4 Responses to “New Cow Syndrome”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I read this on a wall recently. The key to contentment is to want what you have not have what you want.

  2. Ula Says:

    A very important concept you touched on here, Jonny. Life is a constant chasing after the wind if we don’t learn “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” It’s a journey to reach that point, but well worth the effort. It’s saddening to see how many people never seem to realize that there is no lasting joy in “things.”

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