If you are self-sufficient you can ‘retire’ from the outside world… but should you?

I am sharing here an interesting article by Matilda A. Juliette called “How I retired at 25”. I find myself being attracted to her ideas, but it seems ultimately to be a cop out and extremely “self” centred.


I had to retire early from my government job, due to ill health and I now have to be more self sufficient. I do think self-sufficiency is cool, we should probably all be more self-sufficient, but I think people need to do something for ‘others’ too. There is something called social responsibility, unless we are going to deny that we are a member of a large species and part of a wider thing called ‘Life’.

As a model for life, self-sufficiency cannot achieve what co-operation can. It does not produce life-saving medical advances, it does not produce what we NEED ‘now’ by way of food, drinking water, or housing and education for the world’s growing population. It won’t help us migrate to other planets, when this world is full.

If you are ‘self-sufficient’ but use ANY technology, i.e. computer, fridge, cooker, car, bus, aircraft, ship, your lifestyle is only possible because of the existing infrastructure that millions before us have strived to create, so that WE can have the choice of paying back to society, paying forward to society, or copping out of paying into society at all.

At the end of our days if we look back and we have been ‘self sufficient’ but done nothing to move humanity forward, then we have betrayed our ancestors and wasted the opportunity to be more than just ‘self’.

Yes, we could live in a cave with a great view and survive on nuts and berries, but a monkey could do that. We are each capable of greatness. We may not achieve all that we attempt, but I think we should at least try. Don’t you?


2 Responses to “If you are self-sufficient you can ‘retire’ from the outside world… but should you?”

  1. Invisible Mikey Says:

    Here’s a variation on your elucidation of the need for service-oriented activity, paid or unpaid.

    The problem with an assumption like “We are each capable of greatness” is that if everyone’s engaged in that quest, the toilets won’t get scrubbed, the garbage won’t get picked up, and we will produce a nation full of people unhappy with “only” being safe and having food and shelter.

    You can see it pouring out of colleges right now. Millions of graduates unable to land positions enabling them to “follow their passions” because the need for workers is greater in many thoroughly unsatisfying, dangerous and/or unpleasant kinds of occupations. No, I don’t think everyone is capable of greatness. I think “adequacy” is a perfectly acceptable goal, one that is more realistic. It’s just as important in the whole scheme of things to be a reliable cook at a nursing home as it is to be the one who finds the cure for Ebola.

    • rouxrenard Says:

      Just throwing ideas out there, Mikey. I see ‘self-sufficiency’ AND ‘service to others’ as both being important. Keeping toilets clean is certainly an important service that people can offer, but I admire your optimism that cleaning toilets and collecting garbage will be necessary for much longer. Automation is an unstoppable juggernaut. Menial, low paid jobs are not immune to this process. You are also I think ‘overly’ optimistic that jobs of any kind will be around for much longer. Being able to follow your passion is a potentially ‘valued’ (if non monetized) contribution to society. ‘Greatness’ is of course in the eye of the beholder. If the current system is not to collapse following automation, then something like the ‘Universal Basic Income’ will need to be paid to keep money circulating and consumerism ticking over. More people will certainly have the choice to ‘retire early’ as the article suggests we should consider, or do something that can benefit humanity, if even in a small way. I don’t think we can overplay the possibilities, if people are freed to be the best they can be.

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