Taking risks with talents

first_img 8 Views   no discussions Share Tweet Sharing is caring! Image via: mong17.wordpress.comThe parable of the talents has always appeared to sanction a lack of fairness. The servant who receives the least and takes precautionary steps to keep it safe gets a thorough dressing down for his trouble; and the parable itself ends with the cryptic saying, that those who have will be given more, and from those who don’t have, even the little they have will be taken away.What was so wrong of the servant to play it safe? Perhaps he had little faith in banks or the stock market. He may have told himself: putting my money there is a risky business – who knows if the bank will fail or the market collapse (and of course both have done so): at least, in the ground I know where my money is, and I’m the one in control. This option is entirely risk-free.The real import of the parable lies just here, I think. It’s not really about finance or investments. In that world, prudence may be better than gambling, but what talents here refer to is our human potential, the basic endowment each of us receives from God. This is a matter of variety and diversity. Different people receive different things in different measures, less here, more there; one has this, another that. The real question is: how is any human potential actualized, whatever the amount received?It’s not by burying it or playing it safe. Human potential is realized by risking. The mostcommon risk that most people take, for instance, is getting married. What’s the risk here? They do not know what form the future will take. Speaking very strictly, the future is both unknown and unknowable. Why play around with it therefore? Isn’t it imprudent to mortgage one’s life to a future one can have no idea about? Isn’t it safer to hold back, to say yes, I know I love you, but I can’t tell what or where I will be in ten years time, whether I will be healthy or paralyzed, or a host of other things. Given that indeterminacy, isn’t it more prudent not to get into anything that speaks of permanence? Perhaps so, but if that’s your choice, where does it leave you? You remain solitary not only now but prospectively. A shadow is cast over the life you’ve had till then. In the words of the parable, that life is “taken away.”Consider again, someone feeling called to do something significant for others, to serve some cause larger than their own interests. We have had several examples of this in our own lifetime. Before embarking on their summons, perhaps even during the course of it, they must no doubt have asked themselves: why am I doing this? I have no idea where it will take me; I have no idea who will take it on; it may be just my private obsession, quite possibly a huge waste of time.Before you venture out, before you risk, you can’t see (you don’t see) anything. Or rather, what you see is in your heart – a location that’s equally invisible. So the temptation is to say: why not settle for a safer life, why put oneself through all the struggle, all the inevitable frustration? The person who feels called to something, however, and backs off, is like the man who put his talent in the ground. He’s playing it safe. Often such persons remain forever haunted by a road not taken, a dream unfulfilled, a possibility unexplored. And when they are, at such moments, the life they chose instead, that life is taken away.When the summons is obeyed, on the other hand, they find heightened life where they anticipated only frustration and trial. To him who has, more is thus given, and he will have even more than before. And from him who has not, even what he has is taken away.God gives us the human potential we’re all initially endowed with. This is our vocation in the most fundamental sense. We increase our endowment by risking, that is, losing ourselves (giving ourselves away), not by playing it safe. When you play it safe you think you have a handle on things, but things slip through your fingers; indeed, your own life slips through. When you risk on the other hand you find an amplified life, and the increase is always proportionate to the risk, twenty or fifty or a hundred fold. By: Father Henry Charles Phdcenter_img Share Share LocalNews Taking risks with talents by: – November 14, 2011last_img read more