March 1

Today's quotation:

To be ambitious of true honor and of the real glory and perfection of our nature is the very principle and incentive of virtue; but to be ambitious of titles, place, ceremonial respects, and civil pageantry, is as vain and little as the things are which we court.

Philip Sidney

Today's Meditation:

Ambition is a fascinating topic.  When I search for quotations about it, I find just as many that say that ambition is a terrible thing as I find that say that ambition is a wonderful thing.  I read about how ambition helps us to push ourselves and strive to be more than we are, and I read about how ambition warps us when we have ambition to be powerful or wealthy or famous.

On the positive side, if I want to be a better teacher I can show ambition by reading all the books I can on teaching and classroom strategies and pedagogical techniques in order to grow and develop as a teacher.  I can have the ambition to become a better runner, a better writer, a better friend, a better husband, and that ambition can guide me to improve myself in these areas.

On the other hand, if my ambition is to be famous, I may get so caught up in the ambition that I take shortcuts in order to get there--I may hurt other people if I face difficult choices that could mean getting closer to or further from my ambition.  If my ambition is so strong that it's more important than the hearts and spirits of the other people in the world, then my ambition can harm me or even destroy me--if I let it. 

When I think of ambition, I think of the wise sages who have not been tempted by societal definitions of "success," preferring rather to find their own ways in life and to define success on their own terms.  So many of the silly things we do in life, we do because we're trying to impress other people; imagine what life would be like if we didn't ever do things to impress others, but just did them because we knew they were right, and didn't do things because we knew they were wrong.  If those were our major motivations always, then it's possible that ambition wouldn't even enter the picture.

Questions to consider:

In what ways can ambition be a positive factor in our lives?

In what ways can ambition be negative and harmful?

How do you see ambition--mostly as positive or mostly as negative?  Why? 
For further thought:

Yes, the truth is that people's ambition and their desire to make money are among the most frequent causes of deliberate acts of injustice.

Aristotle

more on ambition

  
   

  

    

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