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LIFE MATTERS: All About Ambition

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By Dr Dencio Acop

Let’s cut to the chase. Life is all about ambition. Just look around you. What’s up with people? Why do they do the things they do? Whatever it is, people do what they must because of some goal. Long-term or short-term, people want something in the end. That end drives people. It may actually be a series of sub-ends. But at the very end of it all, there defines the ultimate reality of everything man aspires to achieve. So, what is your ambition? Go ahead and do some kind of review of your life thus far. It may even be an examination of conscience or the like.

At this point, I wish to reflect on the long-standing debate between separation of church and state or more particularly that between the material and the spiritual. Both are ambitions I must insist. This must be clearly pointed out because the material side tends to think as if it is the only option that exists in the world. While the materialistic ambition appears to be dominant because it determines directly the physical survival of us creatures, still it is not the only option available out there. It is, however, understandable why the ambition for physical comfort is the preferred way of most since the resulting gratification is selfish and immediate. There is only one clear fallacy to this ambition though. It is selfish and short-term. It neglects the total potential of man assuming man to be merely brutish by nature. It subordinates all others to the self-ego and totally ignores the human soul. If you entertain skepticism to this assertion, try assessing the rich and powerful in our midst. While there is surely some good created somewhere, the concluding scene is almost always nowhere near the other kind of ambition. It is because the materialistic ambition is elitist and domineering at best and ruthlessly selfish at worst. The corrupt politicians and greedy capitalists cannot help but be powerful and greedy because that is the end of materialistic ambition. The few will prosper at the expense of the many.

Not the honest politicians and capitalists you’ll say. To which my retort would be: Are there any? It also does not necessarily follow that the many poor and powerless are spiritually ambitious. Many of them are not despite their lot in life. You see the difference between the honest poor and dishonest poor is that the latter will blindly follow the rich few believing that therefrom lies his emancipation. The former, on the other hand, is willing to suffer the pains of honesty because his ambition reaches as high as heaven. Corny or superstitious as it may sound, the old fairy tale beliefs of bible-based narratives are not necessarily out-moded or negated as choice options for people in need of ambition. If people can aspire to one day become billionaires, millionaires, presidents, senators, congressmen, secretaries, generals, etc., people too can aspire to become saints in heaven. Historical logic tells us that while materialistic ambition is unidimensional ending with material decay, spiritual ambition aspires for more. As the greedy wealthy and ruthless powerful gain what they worked hard for (only to lose it in death), the practicing faithful is likewise poised to gain what he worked hard for beyond death (‘For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’. – Luke 9:24).

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