Can success be disastrous?
The power of success can be disastrous when placed in the wrong hands. Naturally, there are those who will always choose to manipulate conditions to succeed in their own endeavors, not taking into consideration the lives of those around them. On the other hand, there may be those who do not necessarily pursue selfish ends, but simply do not know where to take success once it has been achieved, thus resulting in their own self-sabotage.
Throughout history, we have seen success used wrongfully in the hands of the unworthy. Powerful leaders of nations, kingdoms, and empires, having succeeded in gaining leadership, have then used their influence wrongfully in achieving their own selfish (and sometimes twisted) goals. Nero, the Roman emperor who beat his pregnant wife to death and has been suspected of instigating the great fire of Rome in an attempt to boost his own political influence. Henry VIII of England, for whom women were beheaded for not bearing him a son, and who is rumored to have eaten eight chickens a night while English peasants starved. The notorious Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, who carried out the Spanish Inquisition. The list is endless. Even in literature, we see the corruption and downfall of society and mankind as a whole as a result of the abuse of success in the possession of those who do not deserve it, as seen in William Shakespeare’s tragedy of King Lear. In the story, societal order is replaced with chaos when there is a power shift from Lear to his evil daughters, Regan and Goneril. This order only returns to a slight degree when virtue (in the form of Lear’s good daughter, Cordelia) returns to England. Success is hazardous when awarded to the unvirtuous.
However, there may be those who are not necessarily evil of greedy in their pursuits, but merely do not know how to handle success. This proves to be just more disastrous to the individual than to anyone else, since it is the individual who will then sabotage his own success to return to his former comfort zone. Success is meant to be grown upon, not exploited or feared.
Success, when achieved by the unworthy or inexperienced, is a most disastrous element. Success is not about being happy at the expense of those about you –it is about using one’s newly gained happiness to improve the lives of others. If one reflects on the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one will never go astray: “To know that one person has breathed easier because you have lived -this is to have succeeded.”