I took this picture of a girl and her cow at State Fair a couple of years ago. It’s a precious photo, something that could only be used once in a blog post and then for just the right topic. One doesn’t want to take a photo like this lightly; just post it for fun. Clearly, there’s something meaningful here.
What impresses me about the photo is that the girl obviously has gone to sleep next to a massive cow. She must trust the cow not to roll over and squash her or stand up and put a hoof print in her back. She appears to be comfortable and relaxed, tired from taking care of the cow and doing all the things 4-H kids do at State Fair. It might be a teenage thing, raising livestock to show at the Fair, but it’s a high pressure enterprise.
So what do we make of this girl’s sacking out next to this enormous animal? Is she foolish? Over-confident? Too tired to care?
I think she is unworried. She knows the cow so well, knows everything about the cow. She’s not afraid of the cow and the cow’s not afraid of her. And because of that, both of them can relax.
In the morning, she will put a halter on the cow and lead it into the judging ring. There the cow will be difficult to maneuver, may go in the wrong direction or refuse to move, and she’ll have to rely on the quality of their relationship, the balance of it, to get the cow to move with her. Not all 4-H kids can do this; I’ve watched some who’ve tried to push and pull their cows around instead of partnering up with them. When that happens, it seems like the situation always gets worse. Pushing begets digging heels in; force begets resistance.
So naturally I’m thinking that this cow-girl example should apply to the pissing match that has become our national governance. Obviously, no one has taken the time to get to know the cow. And now it’s too late because they’re already in the ring and the judging’s about to start. That’s not the time to start building trust.
That’s the deep meaning that I found in this photo that I’ve been hoarding for the past two years waiting for the perfect moment. People need to get to know their cows.