8All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. 10Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. 11There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
(Ecclesiastes 1:8-11 ESV)
We continue to study the observations about life made by King Solomon today. After observing the lack of progress made by nature yesterday, he notes that human effort is also futile.
All the things we do are full of weariness. There is a lot of planning, labor, and struggle to carry on even the most commonest of tasks in our lives – so much so that a man cannot utter it (it is more than one can say).
What’s more, despite all that we do to make life better and bring some contentment to our lives, the eye is not satisfied with what it sees, nor is the ear satisfied with what it hears.
We all covet novelty and variety. We like new foods at first, but soon desire something else. We hear a song and enjoy listening to it but eventually it grows old and a newer one takes its place.
Human desires are never satisfied. We are always seeking a higher high. This is precisely why people develop addictions. People find that alcohol, or drugs, or sex, provide the escape and high they seek. But the next time they need more. And the time after that, even more. The reason is simple: these things really don’t satisfy even though our minds tell us they will.
Solomon goes on to observe that we will never find satisfaction in anything produced by man because there is nothing new under the sun. Anything that will be done has been done. Anything that will be has been already.
All of life is a rehash of what has already happened. Things may appear new to us, but they are not. Even the revolutionary iPhone is just a combination of technologies fitted into a different form factor.
Man innovates. Man does not create real change. We still have the same societal problems we’ve always had. But now, as a result of more people on the planet and faster more efficient communication, those problems have become more widespread. Man has yet to find lasting solutions to our problems.
The reason is, as Solomon notes, there is no remembrance of former things. Nor will there be any remembrance of things yet to be among those who come after. Each generation will make the same mistakes as the previous ones.
Every generation mistakenly thinks they will be the ones to change the world. Right now the millennials think they, with their technology, will make the world a better place. But forty years before them the hippies thought they, with their message of love and peace, would do that. And forty years before that the WWII generation thought they, with their global unification approach, would.
But one could easily argue that the world is not better, and is in fact worse-off, with each passing generation. There is nothing but what has been and we can expect nothing from life other than what we already have – just on a larger scale.
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