“Thus the life and reign of King Henry IV exhibit to us another instance of the vanities of ambition and the harsh guerdon [old English word for "repayment"] which rewards its success.”
I like the “another instance of the vanities of ambition” part. In order to run for office one must be Narcissistic and yet the subtitle to Christopher Lasch’s late 1970s work “The Culture of Narcissism” succinctly describes the consequence of such "necessary" narcissism:
“American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations”
Do we elect “non-leaders”, “non-statesmen” because we have diminishing expectations? Or is it because we as a collective people (oh there is a new concept: collective people) have eliminated the value of “work ethic”, “individual initiative”, “discipline”, “moderation”, etc. from our standard in search of prosperity? Virtue has been replaced with Celebrity-hood.
What is, or better yet - what should our standard be? Mr. Lasch accurately describes the current standard written back in the late 1970s on page 53:
"In an age of diminishing expectations, the Protestant virtues no longer excite enthusiasm. Inflation erodes investments and savings. Advertising undermines the horror of indebtedness, exhorting the consumer to buy now and pay later. As the future becomes menacing and uncertain, only fools put off until tomorrow the fun they can have today. A profound shift in our sense of time has transformed work habits, values, and the definition of success. Self-preservation has replaced self-improvement as the goal of earthly existence."
What is the goal of our earthly existence? Are we as a people becoming the valley of Dry Bones found in Ezekiel chapter 37? Have we lost our eternal perspective in worshiping the Golden Calf of Celebrity-hood?
Again the realization must come to us now, not later (better to have learned this at 52 instead of 62) of we OUGHT to do regardless of the current, popular cultural norm. Where is the idea of maturity (virtue) over selfishness (Celebrity-hood)?