In a recent post I talked about how we all view success differently: how the way you perceive success is most likely far different than how I would. It’s definitely a subjective term. Now let’s take it a step further.
Continuing on the path of subjectivity (I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know that was a real word until today), every Tuesday in our English class we discuss a new quote, usually one from a famous poet or author whose works we’re reading. Yesterday’s was one from a Victor Hugo, a 19th century French poet, novelist, and dramatist. It reads:
“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”
I don’t know about that.
I get what Hugo’s saying: when people let wealth and fame get to their heads they become consumed by greed, while those who are faced with adversities and hard times are oftentimes humbled by their shortcomings and are stronger because of them.
I can agree with the adversity bit, but the part about prosperity stuck with me. Is prosperity a dishonest, greedy goal to strive for? Is it really all that inherently evil?
Well, like so many things in life, it depends on how you look at it. The way I look at it, is there really anything “bad” about being prosperous? About being rewarded for what you worked for?
I mean, it wouldn’t make much sense if someone were to face a whole slew of adversities, then be rewarded with even more adversities, right? It’s like finishing a snowman you worked on for hours, then having someone come along and knock it down. And every time you build it up, they’re there to push it over again. A constant cycle of adversities which, according to Hugo, makes you a man.
So I don’t think prosperity’s something to avoid, and I think everyone will agree; that is, if handled with care. Because it definitely is a double-edged sword that can certainly be abused when in the wrong hands. We see examples of this all the time, whether from celebrities, professional athletes, or even our family and friends. Someone reaches a new social standing or position of wealth and suddenly feels the need to flaunt their accomplishments and oftentimes ends up letting it all go to their head and doing something they’ll later regret.
I think that’s what Hugo was getting at. I don’t entirely agree with his quote, but that’s the beauty of subjectivity, isn’t it? I might find what I think are loopholes in his logic, yet you might passionately disagree with me. So what do you think about Hugo’s observation? Utter nonsense, words right out of the gospel, or a mix of both?