Ambition, since its origin, has been used in a derogatory sense. In 1449 it was classed by a writer with pride and “other vain vices”. Buddhists do not consider it a commendable human virtue. But the parable of Talents seems to imply that not to be ambitious is to stifle initiative and spirit of adventure. But when we consider what befell the ambitious Satan who aspired to challenge God we are left in a baffling confusion.
Ambition may have been the god-mother of man’s progressive march towards belter and happier life. No denying the fact that if man had not aspired for a better life, he would have lived on trees, in caves and in constant fear of wild animals and wanton mood of Nature. But it is this ambition that has brought us to the edge of doom ; we fight for philosophical ideas religious, territories and what not and that too, with the most sophisticated and dangerous weapons. We are living under the constant fear of total annihilation, conflict of ideals, ideologies and interests has generated tension which is the arch enemy of peace.
Had God not been ambitious he would have not created Adam in His own image and had Satan been satisfied with his subjugation to God’s despotic will, there would have peace. Satan’s ambition makes him to challenge the authority of God. Eve’s ambition to taste the forbidden fruit brought untold miseries on the earth.
The crusaders of religions, the standard bearers of equality and the propagators of brotherhood, in their cherished desire to make this world fit for God’s men have killed others as mercilessly as the wanton children kill butterflies. Hilter brought death and destruction with the sole desire to dominate the whole world. Religions fanatics in Iran and elsewhere have killed their opponents with the ambition to create a state befits their concept. What incited the religious fanatics in the past instigates the political dogmatists to day. What is happening in the freedom makes us wish that men were anything else but ambitious.
Passion for Helen’s beauty burnt the “topless towers of Illium”, Antony’s passion for Cleopatra wrecked him and his career and Aurangzeb’s ambition to become unchallengeable emperor made him blind to filial gratitude. Ambitious Dr. Faustus signs a blood bond and barters away his soul to Mephistopheles.
Ambition goes on spreading its tentacles far and wide and so complete realization of these is not possible. Consequently there is frustration and disappointment. Ambition brings us in conflict with others resulting in tension and destruction. We take risks, we sacrifice principles and we ignore conscience for giving a material shape to our ambitions. The result, obviously is, loss of mental peace, poise and proper approach.