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In Praise of Ambition

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 8 March 2015

Ambition can be a slightly dirty word in politically correct society.

It is too often associated with self glorification, money grabbing or success without an eye to the consequences for others. It need not always be like that.

One of the great joys of recent months was our daughter Kate’s school concert to mark the opening of their new buildings. The programme was as ambitious as the buildings it celebrated. Handel’s Zadok the Priest followed by Dvorak’s Largo from the New World Symphony and then the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th. It was a clever but tough programme. Zadok was to mark the past and recognise that we sit on the shoulders of giants, Dvorak looked ahead to life in a new space and the Ode to Joy points towards a world we are trying to encourage students to create. I pondered this a bit amidst near tears of pride at the concentration etched on Kate’s face as it peered around the neck of her double bass.

The concert was hugely ambitious and we all wondered if they would pull it off. It showed great faith in the young people and a justified belief that if you give people the right challenges they will rise to them and grow as individuals and as a group.

So is ambition necessarily bad? The Easter story shows it is not. Jesus did not die to make things a little bit better. He did not just go to prison for just a few weeks. He did not die to help a few people out. The humility Christ displays in the foot washing, in Gethsemane and before Pilate does not detract from the truly staggering scale of what he is taking on. The objective achieved in Christ’s death and resurrection is to realise a universal ambition. Nothing less than the forgiveness of sins of everyone for all time. It is an ambition to inspire awe and thanksgiving.

Andrew Caspari