Success is the Mother of Failure

800px-Triumph_of_Achilles_in_Corfu_AchilleionThe ancient Greeks had a very accurate philosophical worldview about the dangers of success. That is, the tragic flaw in humanity is not that we fail, rather it is that our very successes that destroy us. Achilles does not die on the walls of Troy because he failed as a soldier, he is struck down in the very moment of victory by a coward’s poisoned arrow, struck in a weakness he possessed from birth.

So when I think about America’s current problems, it seems as though they spring from her successes. The American people are almost psychotic in their belief that they can discuss issues with rouge countries probably because in America, the rule of law and a measure of civility have been so ingrained that in most American’s experiences, they can indeed resolve most problems by discussing them. Because American innovation made the firearm so affordable that everyone could own one and defend themselves, it became much less necessary to do so. And now it is completely obscure to a large section of the population that the only way to avoid horrors similar to the recent Kenyan mall terrorist attack, is to count on the few Americans who still go places armed. In America, politicians are generally relatively dumb, (I would love to make congress and bureaucrats and the President take an SAT test now, and see how they compare with the national average…) and our people are naive. I think that they get to be naive because their fathers and their grandfather succeeded so well, that they have literally no concept of what deprivation, war, famine, and plague mean. We have no concept of what it would be like for a city to lose a quarter of its population to a plague like Seville did in 1646. The last pandemic that Americans experienced was in 1918, in large part because American medicinal innovations are the best the world has ever known. And yet, Americans pine for traditional Chinese remedy’s and all natural healing supplements, something they have the luxury of doing since if things get too bad, they can always go to the hospital for boring and effective American medicine.

So yes, I think where Americans are dumb, naïve, and foolish, they are that way because their grandfathers were so successful at conquering the problems that beset humanity.  Unfortunately, like Achilles, humanity has a fatal flaw, and I am afraid that Americans do not have much time left to them to be silly and naïve. I used to wonder why Achilles never wore armor plating around his ankle, but now I know why. He had no memory of physical pain and he didn’t think a little ankle wound would kill him anyway. Let’s pray that when America finally must remember pain, the arrow is not poisoned.Closeup_of_Achilles_thniskon_in_Corfu_Achilleion_autocorrected

Advertisements

4 responses to “Success is the Mother of Failure

  1. That’s a beautiful article on the problems within our country. It is certainly true that success breeds confidence, and confidence, if left unchecked by setbacks or at least the memory of them, soon can turn to pride. While one is humble, one seeks to understand reality as it is. When pride develops, only one’s own conceptions seem to have any merit. Then, pride leads to a fall. In the case of our own country, I hope that this fall is great enough to shock us back to reality, but not too terrible overall.

    • Thanks,
      Certainly the cure (as with so many things) is humility, however the world is (as always) in short supply, and people as well as nations frequently must re-learn it the hard way.

  2. Reblogged this on Aquilon's Eyrie and commented:

    I posted this at my personal blog, but I thought that the Aquilon’s Eyrie readers might be interested as well.

  3. Indeed!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s