Are We Obligated to Do the Things We are Good at?

We are all given a specific set of gifts (right, this is why Communism would never work—because we cannot all be the same person). We need these differences in order to make a society run efficiently. We need the thinkers and the doers, the architects and the constructors, the managers and the service employees; we cannot all be the same, because if we were all the same, then nothing would ever get done (like, if we were all really great French fry makers, then we’d have an over abundance of French fries and NO desserts for people to eat. Or, if we were all really great at singing, then our singing market would be saturated and actually no one would ever make it big on ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’. Or, if we all loved dogs, then there would be an overabundance of cats at the shelters…). We all have to be different.

So the question is—if you are good at something—because this was the unique and different set of skills that you were given to play into the fabric of humanity—are we obligated to do it?

Let’s take the case of the professional football player. Making it into the professional football leagues is a one in a million chance; only about .05% of men who grew up playing football actually make this dream a reality. But, say that there is an individual who has the fastest 40, the strongest arm, and the mentality for football—but just doesn’t like to play the game—because so many other people would vy for that dream, does that mean he is obligated to play, because he was given the gift for football that so many other people yearn for?

Let’s say, we have a girl who has always had a keen sense of people reading. By some magical and mysterious way in which her brain is wired, she is instantly able to indicate whether someone is lying, whether two people are perfect matches for each other, whether someone is about to have a mental breakdown or not. Even when is walking in the security line at the airport, she can point out exactly who will get stopped for extra security screening. Or, when she stands in line at the grocery store, she can tell exactly which people will have difficulty paying for their groceries and which people will not. Does this make her obligated to read the energies of everyone, in both good and bad situations?

Or, let’s say that someone has the knack for art. They have the ability to create these beautiful paintings with just the right combination of colors and lines that are moral and moving and tell stories and ideas in ways that can reach large populations of audience like never before. Their art has the potential to diffuse conflicts, to make people understand each other in revolutionary ways, maybe even the potential to solve world hunger and create world peace. But they dislike painting. Are they obligated to create, despite their distaste?

I am inclined to say that yes—we are obligated to do the things that we are good at, because in the tapestry of the world in which we live, we have been gifted specific skills and traits that, if not executed, would make the fabric fall apart. But, the issue may be more complicated that just a simple ‘yes’.

Some may argue that you would never get good at something if you didn’t like it in the first place. The football player, for example, in order to develop those skills, must have enjoyed playing football at some point in his life in order to put the time and energy into his practice. The artist must have enjoyed art at some point in their life in order to reveal the world in such a unique and poignant way.

Of course, despite being good at something, maybe we don’t do it just because we don’t enjoy it. Maybe the idea of running all day and throwing a football for our profession is too repetitive, and so we’d rather spend our time devoted to selling pharmaceutical products. Maybe the idea of reading people all day, every day, seems too emotionally taxing on our energy, and therefore, we’d rather do something less strenuous and more task oriented. Maybe the thought of sitting behind a canvas all day seems achey to our back, lonely to our egos, and we’d rather be out in the world, interacting with people.

Maybe we have some kind of physical, mental, emotional, or intellectual limitation that prevents us from enacting on our gifts. Maybe it isn’t that we don’t WANT to do it, but rather, we are unable to. Maybe the football player WANTS to go into the NFL, but he sustained too many concussions that it might be dangerous. Maybe the visionary wants to use her skills to help determine which people need help, but she often suffers from migraines that leaves her bedridden. Maybe the artist would love more than anything to paint these beautiful pictures, but he recently developed a tick that prevents his lines from going straight.

Or, perhaps we don’t do it simply because we don’t have the resources for it. It could be that the football player absolutely wanted to play football, but because he came from a disadvantaged environment, he had to spend his time working to support his family rather than practicing and getting stronger and faster. Perhaps the clairvoyant girl is too young to display her people reading skills and therefore, must put those at bay. It could be that the artist would love to paint, but because the artist lives in a remote location, the artist is unable to access the materials necessary to produce art.

Perhaps we don’t like it because it has bad experiences tied to it. Perhaps we did love football and fully took advantage of our dreams to play in the NFL, but then we had a coach who depleted our self esteem, and now even the smell of the pigskin ball brings up unwelcome memories. Perhaps one time the girl used her clairvoyant powers with what she thought was for good, but ended in a bad situation, and therefore she is afraid to use them again. Or, perhaps the artist one time painted a picture that resulted in public humiliation, loss of a job, loss of friendships, and so they never vow to paint again.

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