Michel Cevzar

Why do I want to become an effective altruist?

12 Jul 2016 - Ljubljana

My name is Michel Cevzar and I used to spend most of my younger days between enjoying myself and volunteering. Now I am trying to become an effective altruist.

For me the journey to become an altruist came in the following stages.

1. stage: Enjoying myself and my youth

I had a bucket list that looked something like this:

There are some things that are better done when you are young, handsome, at the peak of your physical fitness and your tactile sensory imput is at it’s peak. Yeah your granma doesn’t see or feel touch as well as a teenager does. Plus you have less responsibility and enough free time ;)

I did all of them except for the last one, I saved the skydiving, because I am waiting for the methodology and equipment to get better.

And for another reason… I want to earn it.

2. stage: Traveling

It entroduced me to material minimalism and put things in a global perspective.

It’s easier to travel if you can fit your stuff in one big backpack, not to mention cheaper.

Couchsurfing and going to places where locals go, I got exposed to a bigger insight into lives of people from Marocco to Sweden. When I saw the poverty in some places I determined to support local business where ever I went. Plus it made me feel I bit quilty about enjoy myself while people were struggling to survive from day to day.

Changing enviroments also helped me a lot to reinvent myself as in a new enviroment habits lose their triggers and it’s much easier to establish new habits. We are what we repeatedly do.

All my stuff still fits into 2 backpacks and if I buy or get something new, I get “rid” of something else in my possesion.

3. stage: What’s the point of hedonism?

When I was surfing for 3 months in Portugal, it came like a moment of relief as I have finished the most important points on my bucketlist.

Besides I realised that hedonism as such doesn’t do anybody much good.

I was just a junkie for the “pleasure” neurotransmiters in my brain.

Most of the fun was just that fun and nothing more.

Fun and hedonism exist only inside your head.

4. stage: What is the point of an average consumerist life?

Work, home, wife, kids, sleep, repeat. Maybe a morgage so you can afford your own house and die in peace on your piece of land. Congratulations you passed on your “very important” genes and that is your legacy.

I think it’s important to do your best. Maybe our best is living an anticonsumerist lifestlye and performing small acts of kindness at your local community. That is an important part of the puzzle. Sadly not all of us have the environment and potential to become the next Einstein or Tesla. And that is completely fine.

For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

5. stage: How to become an effective altruist?

This is where I am now.

Why just altruism isn’t good enough?


The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Ignorance is one of the biggest enemies of effective altruists.

There have been and are many NGO, that don’t understand the problem they are trying to solve well enough and are not putting their resources to maximum effect or are even making things worse.

Like the tomato planting NGO in Africa. Remind me to tell you about that.

Are you an effective altruist?

If the answer is nothing, well then I would have a problem with that.

You spend most of your life at work.

Do something that meanigfully benefits the largest number of people possible and does’t waste our natural resources.

If you know that a couple of hours of volunteering is maximum what you can do AND you do that - I aplaud you. That is already much more than most people. If you add to that lowering your consumption, “FIST BUMP” fellow citizen of the world.