- The price of ambition mania paid by humanity
- Two aspects of ambition
- Man’s struggle for the fulfillment of his ambition
- The attitude of over ambitious people
- The real trouble
- The threat of nuclear war
- Ambition assuming the figure of the grotesque enemy when not followed up by the sense of contentment
Ambition is indeed the grand enemy not only of all peace but also of all happiness. The desirability of contentment preached by the Buddha in the past and echoed by saints and philosophers till today has helped and will continue to help the slow striving humanity. But it helps only those who take pains to reconcile themselves to any eventuality. Such fortunate few, however, are and will remain in minority. The majority from time immemorial has participated hectically in the mad race of reaching the near inaccessible goals of their ambitions.
It is not difficult to bring to light the price humanity has been subject to pay as a result of ambition mania. Before doing so, it is, pertinent to place ambition in the proper perspective. Viewed from one angle, whatever progress man has succeeded in the making is due to the combined ambitions of men from varied walks of life. The gigantic fabric of the modern world has been erected as a result of the labors of the countless geniuses that succeeded in contributing, may be a drop in the ocean, the fruits of their ambition to the advancement of mankind as a whole. Without passionate attachment to a particular ambition, it is well neighed impossible to scale heights un-scaled.
As regards the other aspect, it is in no way less appealing. It is the ambition of men like Alexander, Napoleon, Hitler and a host of others responsible for arresting the advancement of civilisation to a considerable extent. It can be safely asserted that the world would have been a very different place to live in but for the ravages and wreckages caused by the ambitions. Ambition thus tends to look like the legendary forbidden fruit which is tempting to those who have not tested it but fatal to those who have. It is precisely in this context that one may call ambition not an ordinary but grand enemy of peace.
Relentless optimists defend ambition on the ground that without its possession man is in no way different from brutes. Nothing inspires and stimulates human beings more than an ambition they have lived with. Men have lived and endured unspeakable hardships for the fulfillment of their ambitions. Famous English poet John Keats underwent bloodsucking tortures to enable himself to produce poetry betraying the ripeness of Shakespeare. He neither wised for nor had peace all through his short but consequential sojourn on this planet. It may be said that in his case ambition proved to be the enemy. If it was so, he simply asked for it and relished perpetual state of restlessness.
Whichever way one may look at it, ambition and peace are irreconcilable. The moment one has decided to live with an ambition one is bound to bid farewell to peace. Consciously or unconsciously, ambition takes such deep roots that its devotees are left with no choice except to worship it day in and day out. For them life acquires meaning and purpose only when lived for the fulfillment of an ambition. They feel life having well lives if their ambition is fulfilled. Conversely, if they meet with failure, every moment they have to pass on earth seems a waste. In both cases they fail to taste peace but do not repent having done so.
So far so good. Trouble starts when one is not able to know where and when to order halt. Napoleon and Hitler were justifiably ambitious about their countries’ enhancement in terms of position and power. But they faulted and dragged mankind into a awfulness because once started they took sky as the limit. The instance of the modern man throws clear light on unchecked ambition running amuck. A modern businessman is not satisfied with only reaching a marked destination or a well-defined goal. For him one ambition is fulfilled to be replaced by another substantially higher than the preceding and consequently more difficult of attainment. He takes ostensibly due pride in declaring indiscriminately that he is struggling for existence. But the face of the matter remains that he struggles for more and more success. In this clamour, he does not attempt to manage even a few moments to himself. He has driven himself into a vicious circle out of which he can never hope to come clean. If he were prone to mediate cool headeoly it will take him no time to conclude that this entire onrush is not called for. The trouble with him is that he has eyes to see and ears to hear and yet he is not ready to oblige his faculties. His is the typical case of ambition mastering the ambitious.
Not much different is in the case of nations. The countries possessing the atomic weapons are on the point of being devoured by their ambitions to which no stop signals are shown. They have everything to make their nations live meaningfully and purposefully. They are also in the enviable position to help developing and underdeveloped countries lessen their people sum total of woes and miseries. And yet they are ending up by not only rendering lives of their people miserable but also aggravating troubles of the less fortunate nations. Their ambition to browbeat each other has unshered in an era after World War II, in which there is everything and yet nothing to make life resemble gods’ of Greek mythology.
Ambition having run amiss is capable of doing immeasurable harm. Such an ambition can never be termed as the grand enemy of all peace.” At best it is an unscrupulous enemy. And the sooner humanity gets rid of it the better.
Ambition is the grand enemy of all peace’ may sound derogatory at first but when placed in proper perspective ceases to remain so. It is always preferable to have a grand enemy rather than a grotesque friend. Ambition assumes the figure of a grotesque friend or even enemy when not followed up by sense of contentment. One should struggle and strive as long as the goal is not reached. But the goal should be well marked. The trouble with most people is that they do not have a particular goal before them. In most cases they have nothing but ambition as their goal. For them ambition no longer remains the grand enemy of all peace. It becomes a fore not hesitating to hit others below the belt.
It is true that without ambition man’s life is meaningless. But it is equally true that without properly channelized ambition man’s life becomes menacing, not so much for him but for all those in whose contact he happens to come. Men in the rut have hardly any ambition worth the name. It is not they who leave footprints on the sand of time. Energetic people have equally energetic ambition. They, in most cases happen to be determined. Unless they have worthy goals to which they can mobilize their ambition, they end up by making a mess of their own lives as also of the people around.