Rules for chaos
Jordan Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life is a compelling meditation on the human condition disguised as a self-help book. It speaks unfashionable truths and offers serious teaching on how individuals should encounter these truths. Peterson’s works are an apolitical breath of fresh air in our hyper-politicized, decaying age. If you are a broken person this book is for you. And since we’re all broken, there is something for everyone in Peterson.
Peterson’s first set of rules is particularly popular with me. After offering rules, he raises questions and gives pithy, morally serious answers. “What should I do with my child’s death?” he asks. Answer: “Hold my other loved ones and heal their pain.” His daughter had debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. I can relate. My daughter had cancer and had bad side effects. I was faced with the question “When do you pull the plug?”. I had three other children who were worried about their sister and a wife who was worried about losing their only daughter. I called my wisest friend and asked him to tell me how to treat myself as I too was overwhelmed with responsibility and sadness. His answer, which luckily was not needed, was to serve them in their sorrows. But seeing Peterson’s fascinating aphorism brought back floods of truth mixed with tears. Even when I write this, I get a lump in my throat.
This is what I mean by the fact that Peterson’s book is apolitical. Every person – no matter what time or place – is faced with deep questions of meaning in the face of these experiences. Some blink. Peterson insists on open eyes and full hearts.
Living in an imperfect world
Our life is not a picnic. Life suffers and people are plagued with great worries and disappointments. We get angry, envy, deceive and act arrogantly. “We do the things we wish we wouldn’t and we don’t do the things we know we should do,” writes Peterson, reflecting on St. Paul. Our spirits may be willing, but our flesh is weak. (And our minds are not as ready as they should be.) It is not easy to know what to do in your life. “Without clear, well-defined, and non-contradicting goals, it is very difficult to achieve positive engagement that makes life worthwhile. Clear goals also limit and simplify the world, reducing insecurity, fear, shame, and the self-eating physiological forces released by stress. “
Men in particular tend to withdraw into themselves and pretend they don’t need anyone else when their passions are not over. All human beings are plagued by their past and the injustice we have done to others. A strange fatalism can overcome those who feel the difficulty of life. Says Peterson, “If you don’t aim at anything, everything will plague you. . . [and] you have nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nothing of great value in your life. “
In the face of this meandering insignificance, Peterson does a valiant service. His Rule VII: Work as hard as you can on at least one thing and see what happens. Rule VIII: Try to make a room in your home as beautiful as possible. Rule IX: If old memories still upset you, write them down carefully and completely. Rule XII: Be grateful in spite of your suffering. Straighten up and deal with your own demons before trying to change the world. Rule III: “Don’t hide unwanted things in the fog.” First World meaning problems are indeed deep, persistent human problems. And there is no substitute for making the decision to live – and being ready to find the means to do it. Clean your room! Make a schedule and stick to it!
For us gray haired, the head scratch is the reason such things need to be said. Who doesn’t make lists? Who doesn’t work hard to achieve important goals? Nothing prevents people from following the rules and bringing order into their lives, he emphasizes. So what is it about our time that makes his advice seem so profound and necessary? His answer: In a decadent age where politics is corrupt and corrupt, too many people believe that ethics and politics are one and the same. But you don’t need a good regime to practice virtue.
The crisis, which justifies Peterson’s generally apolitical stance, also indicates the need for public renewal or recreation, that is, politics.
Young men in particular need to heed Peterson’s reputation. Peterson considers “the increasingly reflexive identification of the pursuit of victory by boys and men with” patriarchal tyranny “to be” astonishingly counterproductive. “He continues,” There is almost nothing worse than someone seeking competence than being tyrant in. ” The stigmatization of male ambition by our culture could lead to “despair, corruption and nihilism – thoughtless submission to the wrong words of totalitarian utopianism and a life as a miserable, lying, angry slave”.
But Peterson does not let the stigmatized young men off the hook. Living as a stigmatized slave is a choice. In the face of the “hateful,” “stupid,” “demoralizing,” “authoritarian ideology” emanating from “corporate executives” and “HR departments,” young men must “empower” themselves and become familiar with the “eternal principles that renew the vision deal with “life.” As a result, you may be poorer, but you are also richer in self-respect and responsibility. Courage is the first virtue for a reason.
Self improvement and social decadence
This appeal is for more than just self improvement. Peterson challenges everyone to put their own life in order. Yoking to another doubles the problem to say the least, but it is also necessary to complete our nature. Maintaining a lasting relationship with another person in a confined space requires “commitment, practice, and effort”. Trust is the foundation of this lasting relationship, although it is fraught with risk. Any couple works best when they are “subordinate to a principle, a higher order principle that represents their union in the spirit of enlightenment and truth.” Overcoming these obstacles could lead most people to real achievement in life. “There aren’t many real successes. . . in life, ”writes Peterson. “A solid marriage. . . is achievement one ”and raising children is“ achievement two ”. “We live long,” continues Peterson, “but it’s also over in a flash, and you should have achieved what people achieve when they lead full lives, and marriage and children and grandchildren and all that trouble and the heartache that accompanies all of this is well over half of life. Miss it at your risk. “
Why is family life restless in our late modern times? Peterson’s answer is in part feminism – and his “lie about young women. . . about what they are most likely to want in life. Although it is ‘taboo’ to mention it ‘in our culture’, most women want a solid marriage with respectable, responsible men to raise a family with. Instead, young women are taught a “path to misery” of sterile careerism. Peterson would make people “give up ideology” (Rule VI), like feminism.
Feminism is not just an ideology. Our politics, which are shaped by feminism, also unsettled marriage: It has produced an arbitrary, faultless divorce; Public education promotes female careerism and teaches that motherhood is a burden. it sanctions sexual expression in younger and younger years; it transforms rape, harassment, profanity and so on. Ultimately, our anti-discrimination laws make institutional resistance to feminism dangerous. All of this also endangers marriage. One may not be interested in politics, but politics cares about us all!
Indeed, the world of “vision and life renewal” and submission to a “higher order principle” appears to be the world of politics and religion. Peterson undoubtedly shows the need for strong social “meaning maps”. But Peterson is suspicious of pointing out politics to the ambitious, and he has maintained a studied silence about whether any of these higher order principles for renewing life are actually true. The story of Egyptian myth, like Christian history and JK Rowling’s novels, is great and helpful stories. But they’re still just stories, or so it seemed until recently. So allegations of the secret postmodernism have pursued Peterson. Peterson’s emptiness about totalizing politics reflects his focus on developing character first. It also reflects his concern that the political order, imbued with a zeal for the truth, is necessarily turning into a tyrannical emphasis on order (what Benjamin Roberts calls his tyrannophobia). His apparent belief in individual seriousness rejects him from politics. When the chances of reversing our dilapidated regime seem rather slim, Peterson shows the way to reward lives in our time and place.
As a result of following Peterson’s path, thousands of men could defy allegations of toxic masculinity. Hundreds of men could make themselves more responsible and perhaps more marriageable – and dozens more could actually risk marriage. However, when people move out of the circle of their own lives and toward communities, good laws make things more possible and bad laws make things less possible. Individuals must and should fight harmful ideologies in their souls and with their will. They also need to combat ideologies in their laws and replace those laws with better ones. This can only happen if there is a determined, socially enforced set of rules. Policy does not cover all ethics (as Peterson points out), but it is not irrelevant to them either (as Peterson knows but does not point out). The crisis, which justifies Peterson’s generally apolitical stance, understandable for a decadent time, also points to the need for public renewal or recovery, that is, towards politics.
If Peterson’s teaching is not sufficiently political in this sense, it is still the most valuable instruction for leading a good life in a decadent society when social norms are offensive or unclear and laws become increasingly hostile. It is a Nicomachean ethic (but without politics) for our time in which perishable ideologies drown out the voice of nature. Peterson, a man who offers such hope for a life of purpose and virtue, is gold.