AMBITION is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the determination to succeed’ which makes it sound a rather noble endeavour. These days I am not so sure. It has been a time of seeing increasingly ambitious people rise and fall, using any means they can, many of their methods extremely dubious. There is a ruthlessness that goes along with ambition which can lead to devious and often evil behaviour.
2016 has been the year of elections and political decisions. In the UK we have had the Referendum over whether to stay in the EU or leave – and from the outset it seemed to many of us that the leaders of the two campaigns were acting purely for their own political gain. This necessitated them taking risks with the future of the country for their own personal ambition and when for one reason or another it didn’t work out for them, the country and political parties were thrown into turmoil and the rest of us left with the dire consequences.
The result of the Referendum has been a series of campaigns, where ambition has led to the unedifying picture of the in-fighting amongst themselves, over who should be the leaders of their various parties, Conservative, Labour and UKIP. The stakes have been high, as obviously there can only be one leader and inevitably it seems, devious tactics have appeared to be necessary.
It is all very depressing. Gone are the days when there were statesmen who acted for the common good. Now it is every man for himself and nothing will stop their need to rise to the top. Perhaps I am looking through slightly nostalgic rose tinted spectacles – but with the immediacy of the news and the obsession with social media, it all appearss to have become a great deal worse. Bullying has become the norm and this has led to violence. Let none of us forget the death of Jo Cox, an outstanding young politician who did have integrity.
We now have the US Presidential election to come – and ambition and ruthlessness is already playing an increasing huge role and can only get worse.
This obsession with being number one – the richest, the most powerful, – stretches across many walks of life. In industry and the retail trade there is plenty of evidence for the fight to get to the top. Recently (Sir) Phillip Green has allow his greed to trample over all beneath him and it is to be hoped his vaulting ambition will soon bring him down.
And now we have seen the start of the Olympics over which hangs the depressing cloud of drug testing, where not only individuals but whole countries are driven to desperate measures in order to succeed. Cheating of some kind has spread like a plague, even into the gentlemanly game of cricket.
I look on all this with slight bewilderment. I have never been ambitious, or had the drive to rise to the top. Maybe if I had I would have been more successful – but it is just not in my character. Sometimes it can be frustrating to settle for second best, or worse – but given the antics of the ambitious I will be contented to potter along behind for the rest of my life.