Les Miserables: Assailant of Success

The man who did not speak out in the time of prosperity does better to keep silent in the time of adversity; only the assailant of success is the legitimate instrument at its downfall.

p. 61

But why does he do better? Better for whom? Himself? The successful? Society? Hugo argues that the one who speaks out in prosperity is the only legitimate instrument of the downfall. Legitimate: so better for society, certainly—at least.

Society cannot prosper when illegitimate means are used to bring down what needs bringing down. And thus while there is much talk—and rightly so—about those who castigated Clinton but now overlook the loose morals of Trump, should not there also be much talk about those who defended Clinton and assail Trump. Are they—the latter—legitimate? If we long for integrity, we must apply the standard equally despite the danger to our popularity, position, purse, or person. We must roundly denounce—and praise—left and right when the situation warrants. 

But this also requires something else, something deeper than integrity. It requires something stable for that integrity to be built upon. This cannot be the moment’s cultural norms, for those will change as the seasons. No, integrity of this kind—the kind that spans several administrations—requires a bedrock of truth. And that can only be found in the revelation of the one who created all things. Only his truth is truth for all. And so may the assailant of success have God’s word as his rock on which he stands. 

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