In my Philosophy class today, we discussed something that I had been mulling around in my mind for quite a while. We talked about how a person who doesn’t want to do a certain job/task should be the exact person to do the said job/task. The reason being that the person who wants to do such a job/task will not have the proper skills. It had come from an excerpt of The Republic by Plato, but I also remember reading something to that effect from East of Eden. In East of Eden, the son who wanted to fight wars, was not allowed to, while the father made the son who didn’t want to fight, go into the military. As far as I can remember, the son who went into the military managed to do a good job.
And so, this has got me thinking about other aspects of our lives that this applies to. As a society, we tend to tell teenagers ready to enter adulthood, to “Do what you’re passionate about!” or “Follow your dreams!” and while these are important to tell the younger generation, it presupposes some aspects of that person. We like to think that a person likes to do something that they are good at, which if the expressions above are taken to the heart, there is nothing wrong with such a reality. However, being good at something doesn’t mean that you like that thing, and the opposite is true, where someone who wants to do something, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be good at it.
And so, this brings up the question then, why do we tell the younger generation to follow such actions? And I believe in a utilitarian society, assigned jobs to cater the best skills of that person would be the best action. But, we are not in a utilitarian society, and big problems can quickly be seen with this system. It is simply the fact that happiness would not be achieved. And so, maybe the goal of the above phrases are not to benefit the greater society, but to nurture the self-interested aspect of ourselves.
I feel that the best suited jobs for people are not what they desire, but what is their nurtured skills. However, when these two facts line up, it is possible to have your dream job and are fantastic at it. We discussed in my class how, this is so applicable to leaders, how the ones who do not want to lead, will be the best ones. Especially in our current political climate, we do see candidates wanting to lead out of their own self-interest, such as business ventures, or fame, or more air-time. These are the types of people we want to avoid, because they don’t take the job seriously, they don’t fully contemplate the effects their actions can have. They are in it for themselves, and that’s how I see our current president. A man not fit for the job, because he wants to have the job. But in a society so driven on the “The American Dream” we sometimes have to sacrifice our passions for others, because it’s selfish to not do so.
My alteration on the above phrases, would be to the effect of “Follow your dreams, if they align with what you’re good at.” But this sounds hard-pressed and demoralizing, and so my only thought is that we may want to rethink how we approach this subject.