The desire to distinguish oneself and to be illustrious either in the satisfaction of one’s own ends or in the service of humanity is ambition. It is a strong impulse which rouses a man to action and under its influence a man is capable of doing things and of undergoing all sorts of hardships, which would not have been practicable under ordinary circumstances.
Ambition is a passion which is both useful and had. Seeing that it gives an impetus to work, it is useful, for upon work rests the improvement of the world. There is motive behind all work and, but for this. no one would have stirred his little finger to do anything. In many cases this motive is supplied by ambition. If the hearts of men were not fired by ambition, there would have been no civilisation, no inventions and no discoveries.
No one would have spent his time in writing books or in making scientific experiments or in voyaging to different parts of the world in search of new lands. were there not a desire behind this to serve humanity or to acquire distinction by so doing. The progress and prosperity of a country are. to a considerable extent, due to the lifelong endeavors of ambitious men. On the other hand, ambition which leads men only to seek their own ends, by means fair or foul, is positively bad. Ambitious men of this type only look to their owŋ interests and do not hesitate to adopt mean and wicked methods for the realisation of their ends.
As has been pointed out, there are two forms of ambition, noble and ignoble. A man inspired with noble ambitions pays no heed to his own self. He does not run after fame or wealth. His sole desire is to do good to humanity, to remove their fellow-creatures. In fact, such a man dedicates his life entirely to the service of mankind. He welcomes all dangers and difficulties, to his fellow beings.
As opposed to this is the other form of ambition which is ignoble. A Man working under this form of ambition is busy looked after his selfish ends. He cares nothing for humanity or the world. He is satisfied if his won desires are fulfilled. He is always running after wealth, fame and power and to achieve his ends he does not hesitate to stoop to wickedness or dishonesty. He disregards place in his heart. His sole aim in life is to secure the objects of an ambition by hook or by crook.
Such ambition should never be allowed to take possession of one’s heart, for instead of an ennobling man, it only brings about his degradation. Alexander the Great’s ambition was to be master of the whole world by conquering it. This ambition led him on his expeditions of conquest. Without mercy or pity, he laid waste many countries, devastated beautiful towns and villages and destroyed the works of art and nature. He marked every place he visited with bloodshed famine and pestilence. Such is the nature of misdirected ambition and so it should always be avoided. The ambition of furthering one’s interests is not bad in itself, provided the means adopted for the attainment of the end are above reproach.
Thus we see that ambition, if it is noble and disinterested, is good. It should be the aim of everyone in this world to cherish this ambition so that he might thereby benefit mankind and establish peace and harmony in the world. But in this selfish world of ours, it is difficult to find men filled with such noble ambitions. The duty ‘before us, therefore, is to swell the number of men with noble ambitions.