I recalled a quote from a favorite book of mine, “The Importance of Living” by an author named Lin Yu Tang. He once wrote of America that the three greatest virtues was 1) Americans loved to be on time, 2) Americans admired success and achievement beyond anything else, 3) Americans loved efficiency. Now he wrote that book while he studied in America in the 1920s, around a hundred years ago. But he wrote also that they were also the three greatest American vices, because that is what made Americans so nervous and edgy all the time.
To understand the ways of ambition, success, and achievement, you have to be ready to embrace the accompanying hypocrisy, superciliousness, and feelings of superiority (if one is successful at the aforementioned qualities). You have then a society of haves and have nots, and then people who become conceited and then those that feel like failures. If you end up in the second category, after you are thoroughly programmed, and then when you feel miserable, the exact same society asks, “What is wrong with you?” “Why aren’t you happy?” Then comes the march of doctors, some religious leaders, counselors, continuing to feed into the feelings that there indeed IS something seriously wrong with you, when really all you have done is just learn how to not be yourself.
You may have been perfectly content to be ordinary, you never felt ever that you had to be somebody. It is just that Society needs its heroes, its superachievers, to build its tallest buildings and to finance the biggest IPOs. Nobody is born trying to conquer the world, or even wanting to.
Like a mother’s cooing at you and getting toys when you “excel” or bring home a good report card, you can see that society has already begun to condition your mind and make you “work, work, work”. Man is the animal that works. There is no creature to be found anywhere in the world which does not want to do in their “vocation” where they their “instincts” and their “character” lies.
A fish wants to be a fish and does not wish to swim on land. And cows graze the fields all day and leave cow chips all around. A horse is just itself, and just wants to gallop, it does not want to be a bird. No animal wants to become another animal. But man certainly wants to become other men.
Man is the only “creature” that wants to be ambitious, and to to change careers, and make more money, get more education, and get all the awards, attention, and respect that more education brings. He becomes this way because of modern society’s placing so much attention into this “reward system”.