I've been reading Naruto (Japanese Manga) for the last couple days. It's the story of a young boy who wants to be the best Ninja in the village so that everyone will finally notice him.
The village that this story takes place in has a strong focus on fighting and physical expertise, as its main purpose is training new ninjas. One of the other characters is a strategist rather than a fighter, but is still being trained only to fight because that's "how it's done."
All of this got me thinking about people's talents and how most of us aren't becoming what we do best. In a perfect world, each of us would get to do whatever we were best at. Some would be scholars, some artists, some builders, some inventors, and so on.
But, where in all of today's world would an actual Ninja fit in? Wars are fought with machines and long range missiles. People are generally peaceful toward each other, and when they aren't they also use guns rather than hand to hand tests of strength.
In more primitive times, the warrior was one of the most praised members of society. Everyone's life depended on their strength and skills as a fighter. They would have gotten the best food, the most wealth and the best women (those that lived, anyway). But, today we don't really need that type of warrior, and we certainly don't treat them the same way ... ?
Just because we don't need them, doesn't mean that those people who would have been our great warriors don't exist. What are they doing? Are they the bikers that you see in bars, just waiting to pick a fight? Football players, other athletes, janitors, police, gym teachers?
Another whole group of people who no longer have a high place in our society are crafts-people. We buy our goods en mass from Asia/India. Emphasis is placed on everything being the same, reproducible rather than artistic and unique. Our artisans either get lucky and sell over-priced goods at fairs and boutiques or they get a desk job - most not even realizing that creativity would have been their occupation in other times and places.
On the flip side of this coin, I would have been a peasant farm worker rather than a web designer. There was not a lot of need for thinkers or philosophers back in the day (unless you were rich or got really lucky).
Our culture has changed from being based on strength and force to brains and trickery. This has been good for some and bad for others ... It's just the wheel of fortune that always keeps things interesting.
If I could get a message into everyone's head it would be that you don't have to wait for someone to appreciate your efforts, or to pay your way - do what you are good at, and don't let social expectations keep you back. We should have more ninjas in the world.