A Guardian report has recently debated whether graduates should “Forget your dreams and follow the money if you want to help the world”. In order to effectively enagage with the argument, the Guardian references William MacAskill, co-founder of career-advice website 80,000 Hours and author of Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism can help you make a difference.
MacAskill states that young people “should really be thinking about learning skills, building networks, building up credentials, learning about what the most important problems in the world are and how to fix them” as opposed to rushing into a non- profit, passion at the ready and comfortable shoes on their feet.
The article also cites “working to give” as a more effective method of ‘doing good’. MacAskill himself has committed nearly all of his equity in the start-up, which recently raised nearly $1m (£645,000) in venture capital, to charity. He lives on a minimum wage and has thus far donated $100,000 (£64,700) to charity.
He isn’t alone, 80,000 Hours claims that “people we’ve advised intend to [collectively] donate over $10m to high-impact charities within the next three years.”
The Guardian argues on the other hand however that,
“…earning to give is controversial. New York Times columnist David Brooks, for example, has argued that it turns people “into a means rather than an end” and that taking a job just to make money is “probably going to be corrosive”.”
So, is it time to pack in our passions and become “effective altruists”- who define themselves as those who reason their way into doing the most good-? Or, are we to approach this advice with caution, and question what passion might have to offer that reason can’t?
I cannot advocate for the calling off of passion in order to entirely reason ourselves into mere money generators. The greatest accomplishments in history were often the result of the pursuit of passion, which itself arises from a desire for recognition and achievement, and these are considered valuable attributes in today’s working world.
Our passions might often limit us, however they are also what drive us to succeed, to accomplish the impossible. It was passion that got us to the moon, passion that made Shakespeare immortal, and passion which made the tall towers of commerce rise from the once smog ridden cities of the world.
It might not be very reasonable, but what great accomplishment ever was?