The great Russian author Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, or Leo Tolstoy as he is known in the English-speaking world, was on the right track in being suspicious of the mainstream interpretations of history. As noted above, the approved versions of history tell us that great men drive great developments. But in War and Peace, Tolstoy exposed this very idea as fallacious. For those who have not read the book, it is historical fiction about the Napoleonic Wars told from the Russian perspective. What apparently intrigued Tolstoy was the disintegration of Napoleon’s army once he reached Moscow. In his march on the Russian capitol, Napoleon was at the height of his game in his power and his understanding of war, men, and tactics. If history is driven by great men, then Napoleon should have been able to march into Moscow triumphantly, stake his flag, then march triumphantly back to Paris. But the story of his army’s disintegration after the point of their highest achievement is an incomprehensible wonder to historians and a reminder of the limits of any human being, no matter how smart, strong, tough, or great, to control nature and people. By the time he reached Paris, Napoleon had already started losing control of his armies, thus starting the long slow decimation by nature (God), by confusion, by fatigue, by the cold of Winter, by disease, and by the guerrilla warfare inflicted on them by common Russians. His glorious army was worn down by a thousand cuts in a very ignoble and humiliating spectacle as they made their horrendous march back to Paris.
History is full of such stories of great men and women that reached their apex in life only to fall apart or to find that it was not enough. Alexander the Great is reported to have wept when he discovered that there was nothing left of significance to conquer. He had staked his entire life on the idea that conquest is what life is all about. But he found an end to conquest, and therefore, found an end to himself, and was grief-stricken to finally understand that this, like all things in life, was not enough. There are not enough people, and there is not enough pleasure, glory, wealth, or fame in this world to satisfy our hunger for something higher, greater, and more meaningful than ourselves and better than the world around us. Only God is big enough and powerful enough to fill this gaping jagged hole of desire in the human soul. And no man or woman is beyond that desire, no matter how high, powerful, wealthy, talented, creative, etc.