Lately I have been thinking quite a lot about the FIRE movement. A movement I consider myself lucky to have found and proud to be part of.
I love FIRE and everything it stands for. I believe taking charge of your life and your own happiness is an amazing thing that will bring joy to many people who would otherwise have suffered and been miserable in their jobs for most of their lives.
Recently, I have started questioning whether we as FIRE bloggers and FIRE practitioners could be even more ambitious than we currently are.
Challenging the focus on the individual
People in the FIRE community tend to focus on the individual. I do this myself all the time on the blog.
We make monthly reports on our net worth, we write about what financial independence means to us and what our ‘ideal weeks’ look like. Most articles on FIRE are focused on individual journeys.
Common for the majority of these articles is that the individual is the center of the story. At best it includes our family, our closest community or other personal finance bloggers.
Don’t get me wrong; this is amazing and it serves as inspiration to (hundreds of?) thousands of people every day.
I have rarely experienced such a big group of driven, intelligent and kind people as the ones I have met in the FIRE community (and more broadly in the personal finance sphere).
This is also why I have the feeling we can accomplish so much more than achieving our financial independence number, do a few side hustles and live happily ever after while documenting our retirement (this we should of course also do!).
What if we increasingly shifted our focus away from the success of the individual and instead towards our community, country and perhaps even humanity as a whole?
The bigger picture
In all developed and developing countries across the world we see people living in poverty who can’t afford to feed their families. Mental illness is on the rise and people are more unhappy than ever before.
Humanity is facing the biggest crisis in the history of humankind with climate change. The irreversible damage it will do to life as we know it with extreme weather and millions of climate refugees is incomprehensible. Combine this with rapid technological change e.g. making the working class useless and an ongoing nuclear arms race, it’s no longer something anyone can ignore.
Who will find the global solutions needed to solve these global problems so our grandchildren can enjoy the benefits of FIRE as we know it? I don’t believe our politicians will (remember, greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing despite centuries of promises).
Can the FIRE movement take on bigger challenges than teaching people how to become financially independence and retire early? I believe we at least have an obligation to try 🙂
So what should we do?
Alright, I know the FIRE movement is not going to solve these problems tomorrow. I might also paint a very dark picture of an otherwise in many other respects well-functioning world.
However, with all the knowledge, all the drive, all the power (our combined global reach is huge) and all the wealth our movement possess, is it time we start shifting our focus a little away from the individual and a bit more towards the bigger picture?
This is not a critique of anyone in the FIRE movement and I’m not saying we are egoistic or narrow-minded at all. I know there’s plenty of FIRE people out there who are doing amazing things for other people every single day.
I also know the whole purpose of FIRE is to be doing exactly what you want all the time, and if you don’t want to spend time on any of this it is totally fine by me.
The only thing I am asking is whether we as a community should start striving towards even bigger and better things for more people while still encouraging and reporting on the amazing individual achievements that form the basis of our movement.
I know I will challenge myself to think more broadly of what FIRE can actually do and what I can do as a future financially independent citizen of the world.
So what can we actually start doing as a community? I’m not sure, which is why I need your help, but even though it is a small thing, my first steps pre-FI have been to donate some of my blog profits to charity and start investing in ethical index funds rather than traditional index funds.
Your turn: What do you think? Should the FIRE movement become even more ambitious and strive towards solving bigger problems than today?