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Do "gifted" people have a moral obligation to work?
Old 11-16-2012, 05:45 PM   #1
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Do "gifted" people have a moral obligation to work?

The background: In recent conversations with my father, he's expressed the position that someone who is "gifted" or might have higher aptitude for success, has some what of a moral obligation to do a job that is deemed more worthwhile, or more important. The discussion stemmed from my desire to retire early. He feels that it is greedy or self-centered for someone to retire early if they have the potential to impact events or people. I am by no means trying to toot my own horn here or paint myself as a Jack Bauer, but that's my father's (and probably most dad's) view of his son.

I'm sure some in this community have considered whether they're "letting anyone down" or not "living up to their potential" by pursuing FIRE.

Just like to hear some of the views.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:47 PM   #2
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My answer to your question is 'no'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by navydavey
The background: In recent conversations with my father, he's expressed the position that someone who is "gifted" or might have higher aptitude for success, has some what of a moral obligation to do a job that is deemed more worthwhile, or more important. The discussion stemmed from my desire to retire early. He feels that it is greedy or self-centered for someone to retire early if they have the potential to impact events or people. I am by no means trying to toot my own horn here or paint myself as a Jack Bauer, but that's my father's (and probably most dad's) view of his son.

I'm sure some in this community have considered whether they're "letting anyone down" or not "living up to their potential" by pursuing FIRE.

Just like to hear some of the views.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:48 PM   #3
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Brevity, I like it.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by navydavey View Post
I'm sure some in this community have considered whether they're "letting anyone down" or not "living up to their potential" by pursuing FIRE.
I suspect that many of us consider that we are (or were) not living up to our potential by going to work in the various @#€-up power structures of a large bureaucracy 5 days a week.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:56 PM   #5
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Parallel questions:

- If you are especially fertile do you have a 'moral obligation' to have children?
- If you are butt ugly do you have a moral obligation to stay out of public view?
- if you are...

OK, I'll stop now.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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I say no.

I can't think of anyone that is so important to society that he/she cannot be replaced by someone else.

On the flip side, it could be one's moral responsibility to retire to allow others the opportunity to ascend to the highest level.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:06 PM   #7
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I get this from my mother practically every time we talk. At 50 I RE'd in June. Had a good number of years in the corporate world, and nearly as many as an elementary school teacher. Even though she retired at 56, she says, "I don't understand why you don't want to work" or "But you're so smart." Recently she said, "Maybe you could be a lawyer." I am beginning to think she doesn't really know who I am!

So, for your dad and my mom, there are many things we could be doing to make the world a better place. But I'm pretty sure that for every job I am not pursuing, there are plenty of other people who are.

Or I am wrong, and civilization will wither due to my self-interest. If that's the case . . . sorry everyone!
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:06 PM   #8
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I can see both POVs, but I know there's only one acceptable answer here. This is hardly the place to hear both sides, sorta like asking about the second amendment at an NRA meeting. The question really isn't whether or not any of us are irreplaceable (micro), maybe it's more about the what difference the ratio of productive citizens to non-producing citizens has on our economy/financial well-being (macro)...
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:07 PM   #9
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I find that I am happiest when I do what I want rather than what others expect of me.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
I can see both POVs, but I know there's only one acceptable answer here.
+1

Those who would like to argue the other point of view should be working rather than neglecting to benefit humanity wasting time here.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navydavey View Post
The background: In recent conversations with my father, he's expressed the position that someone who is "gifted" or might have higher aptitude for success, has some what of a moral obligation to do a job that is deemed more worthwhile, or more important. The discussion stemmed from my desire to retire early. He feels that it is greedy or self-centered for someone to retire early if they have the potential to impact events or people. I am by no means trying to toot my own horn here or paint myself as a Jack Bauer, but that's my father's (and probably most dad's) view of his son.

I'm sure some in this community have considered whether they're "letting anyone down" or not "living up to their potential" by pursuing FIRE.

Just like to hear some of the views.
Maybe he is telling you this because he honestly feels people in general have a moral obligation not to be lazy, and he is afraid you are going to become a lazy slob in retirement. He is telling you this (I think), because he is trying to fulfill his own moral obligation to raise you responsibly. Even though you are already an adult, a parent's responsibility in this realm never ends.

If I were in your shoes, I'd listen, nod, and act like you understand, and then just proceed to do whatever you want to do with your life while maintaining as non-confrontational a manner with your father as possible.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:13 PM   #12
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Gary Larson, Far Side cartoonist, quit early. Very gifted.

I was ticked when he quit, but in retrospect, he did the right thing. Others have let it go too long.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:18 PM   #13
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:23 PM   #14
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Extend this logic, and you also have a moral obligation to spread your superior DNA around by fathering as many children as you can.

It could be worse - you could be a gifted daughter.

No disrespect to your dad - who obviously loves you - but IMHO, anyone who tells anyone they have a "moral obligation" to do anything is being pompous, and if I were there to hear it, I would bust out laughing.

A.

Quote:
Originally Posted by navydavey View Post
He feels that it is greedy or self-centered for someone to retire early if they have the potential to impact events or people. I am by no means trying to toot my own horn here or paint myself as a Jack Bauer, but that's my father's (and probably most dad's) view of his son.

.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:25 PM   #15
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I think that a requirement of happy early retirement is to quit giving a s**t what other people's expectations are of you.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:33 PM   #16
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Nobody, except my children and my spouse, have a "right" to my labor.

So, again, to Robert Heinlein:

Quote:
Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time and squawk for more!
So learn to say No and to be rude about it when necessary.
Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
Or, see the signature element below.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:44 PM   #17
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I can see both POVs...
Me too.

But I think it is narrow-minded to assume that paid work is the only way for someone to have a positive impact on the world.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:52 PM   #18
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Use your talents in different ways. Like volunteering with a charity or helping people you love but never had time to help before. I think those who are really talented can make more of a difference once released from the shackles of paid employment.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #19
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Many of us here have been able to retire early precisely because of our special talents (coupled to hard work).

When I left my job, they had to hire 4 more people to do it all...so I suppose my retiring was helping society; now I help keep bartenders and airline people employed.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:09 PM   #20
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Putting aside ego, what prompts those who have attained a special position in history to work beyond the point of having their monetary needs satisfied?
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