Ambition is a person’s desire to achieve a certain goal. An optimistic individual is motivated by self-motivation, internal desire, and an emphasis on a particular goal. Being positive describes a person’s ability to obtain what they want based on their self-interests and the expectation that they can attain their goal. Self-destruction is the state of having an unhealthy lifestyle as a result of risky habits. In certain cases, self-destructive habits provide short-term pleasure or relaxation but impair one’s desire to enjoy a rewarding and satisfying life. Self-destructive behaviors could include drug abuse, force computer gaming, smoking, body injuries, and chronic avoidance. The actions bring temporary satisfying emotions that cloud one’s judgment on the long-term effects of the habits.
Having an ambition is a great idea in every person’s life as it shapes an individual’s present as well as future living standards. However, human aspirations are dangerous if not controlled and kept within limits. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s short narrative is arguably one of the most relevant storylines that depict how ambition can lead to self-destruction. In the story, a young man by the name Harrison Bergeron is shown to be a highly ambitious individual who utilizes his talents of athletics and intellect in an attempt to overthrow the government. In the story, Vonnegut writes that a news anchor informs the audience that “Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen… has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous” (Vonnegut 3) For a boy of such a young age to develop an extreme drive to the extent of treason indicates how people drunk with ambition are likely to ignore the rule of law and instead utilize their possession to realize their selfish goals. Harrison’s high desire eventually proves to be self-destructing as he is arrested and put in jail only to escape later.
In another instance, the narrative shows that ambition can cloud one’s judgment to the extent of disregarding others. Upon his escape, Harrison disrupts the TV studio and claims that I am the Emperor! … Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” (Vonnegut 4). The young man stamps his authority with complete ignorance of the will of those within the room. Clearly, these actions show that in his quest to attain his desires, Harrison is overwhelmed by its power and eventually fails to acknowledge the need for morality, respect, humility and the autonomy of all the other individuals. He goes on to say that “Even as I stand here crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!” (Vonnegut 4). As such, this statement illustrates self-destruction as the loss of self-control, morality and most of all, the conscience is ruined where the individual fails to acknowledge wrongdoing.
Ambition, if left uncontrolled, destroys the individual by enhancing a sense of dissatisfaction. Jim Hall illustrates this aspect quite clearly in his article Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too. In this narrative, Spiderman’s self-conversation at best shows his dissatisfaction in his otherwise dull life of heeding instructions from Gubbener. Spiderman says that “I tink I twy sometin diffwent. I tink I twy sometin exciting like wacing cawrs” (Hall 1) Keeping in mind Spiderman’s reputation as a hero highlights n element of irony where in this case, he is not satisfied with his abilities. Instead, there is a hint of unhappiness and displeasure in his words. Spiderman’s ambitions are directed towards doing things that are supposedly enjoyable, and he, therefore, fails to acknowledge the big picture which involves helping those in need. Similarly, in the quest to enjoy life, an individual might undergo self-destruction by seeking personal pleasure rather than focusing on service to humanity.
As if dissatisfaction is not enough, ambition can also lead to self-destruction where one loses self-esteem. Spiderman’s sentiments elicit this phenomenon where he says that “I can’t even buin my suit. It won’t buin. It is “fwame wesistent” (Hall 1). Apparently, Spiderman is so focused on his idea of doing other more exciting things that he misses the sense of purpose which is why he would burn his suit, an item that defines his being. This illustration is practical particularly in scenarios where the ambitions push one to lose self-esteem, attempt to change appearance and even discard elements that describe them. The same thing happens when people fail to appreciate their roles, functions, and position in the society. Failure to become contented eventually leads to self-destruction in the form of hopelessness and unhappiness.
Robinson story regarding Richard Cory exemplifies how ambition can lead to self-destruction in a physical sense. Cory, an established athlete, is coveted by many people who wish to be like him. Robinson writes that “In fine, we thought that he was everything. To make us wish that we were in his place” (Robinson). More often than not, people are usually attracted to individuals who stand out, and they want to emulate them. However, in the process, the positive self-image is lost which is also a form of self-destruction. The author writes that “so on we worked, and waited for the light, and went without the meat, and cursed the bread” (Robinson). These people do all they can to look like the athlete including going hungry and they thus lose value for their bodies. This article sources highlight that it is imperative to appreciate what life has to offer before setting unrealistic targets that could quickly drive one into unacceptable behaviors. Moreover, living an independent life free of comparison to others is an excellent remedy. The lifestyle keeps a person within his limits thus avoiding stress, developing feelings of unworthiness and pain which are components of self-destruction.
Ambition is a good arsenal for the human mind that ensures things are done. However, it is also the most destructive aspect of people’s life. Most of the time, ambitions develop n the right way, but at times, the desires arise as a result of emulating other person’s achievements. Even though setting goals in life is very vital, the expected outcomes of such wishes must be realistic. Realistic goals not only keep the individuals focused but also gives the opportunity to identify the right path and steps of navigating the challenges that come along. The above-used sources argue that ambition leads to self-destruction, but this matter is still subject to further discussion using other resources. Nevertheless, self-destruction resulting from is avoidable through the development of a positive self-image, satisfaction with oneself, avoiding being over-ambitious and also setting achievable objectives.
Hall, Jim. “Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too.” n.d.
Robinson, Edwin Arlington. “Richard Cory.” 2009. Representative Poetry Online. URL: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1735.html.
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. “Harrison Bergeron.” 1961.