Antidote for Chaos?
A Commentary on Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos
Jordan B. Peterson is a popular and controversial figure. A professor with a background in clinical psychology and a love for literature, history, science, and philosophy. His depth and breadth of knowledge coupled with a determination to speak truth despite its unpleasantries it is no wonder that when he speaks, people listen.
What feels like decades ago, Peterson published a book called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I bought a copy as soon as it hit the shelves of my local Barnes and Noble. Tragically, although I was enthusiastic about reading a book by a professor I admired, I never gotten to actually reading the darn thing!
That is, until today.
Originally, I had planned to make a blog post commenting on each one of his rules but in reading his preface and overture, I already needed pause to deconstruct it!
Firstly, is the topic of establishing rules. Rules, although seem restrictive, are actually freely. This is because rules creates order, which is to say structure, and without it chaos surely ensues. Dr. Norman Doidge notes in the preface that when left to our own devices we “quickly become slaves to our passion.” She states that the “best rules do not ultimately restrict us but instead facilitate our goals and make for fuller, freer lives.” When there is structure, a person has a clear goal in mind enabling them to move forward and up. Progress is the only solution to decent.
Another topic the preface covers is the fault of moral relativism. Dr. Doidge explains that “…people cannot tolerate the vacuum-the chaos-which is inherent in life, but made worse by this moral relativism; they cannot live without a moral compass, without an ideal at which to aim in their lives.” In short, moral relativism is structureless which leads to chaos. On the other extreme of the spectrum is nihilism. When nothing is true or real, where does that leave us? Empty at best and destructive at worse.
The last major topic the book prefaces (and perhaps the crux of it all) is its commentary on purpose. It is easier to describe what purpose is by what it is not. The book makes it clear, the pursuit of happiness above all else is a foolish endeavor. (And emphasis here on the pursuit because by nature it is ever fleeting.) To live is to suffer. This is plainly obvious. What Peterson purposes is for the individual strive for order and “through the elevation and development of the individual, and through the willingness of everyone to shoulder the burden of Being and to take the heroic path.” We do this by taking on responsibility for our own lives, proclaim truth, pushing beyond our limits, developing our character, and by persevering despite the odds and chaos.
So how does this all apply to my blog?
I want my blog to be a place where I share my journey growing as a person by mentally challenging myself. I do this in hopes that I can help others with their own journeys.
I want to make something abundantly clear however: I don’t know what I am doing! The book describes people who claim they do “ideologues” and define them as “people who pretend they know how to ‘make the world a better place’ before they’ve taken care of their own chaos within.” My goal is to master my inner demons before telling others how to. My commentary are suggestions and me “thinking out loud” so to speak as I work out my development with knowledge and humility.
Statistically speaking, I am here for decades to come. In that time, I can either explore my potential or fail incredibly and become resentful. This is a decision we all must make daily.