Jordan Peterson Deserves Love, Not Spite, in Time of Darkness

Jordan Peterson Deserves Love, Not Spite, in Time of Darkness, by Michael Davis.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Jordan Peterson — but then I’m not quite sure Dr. Peterson does either. Maybe that’s what makes his writings and his speeches so compelling. His best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life, probably falls in the self-help genre, but he’s no guru. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers to life’s problems — just a few helpful tips. And he presents those answers with hard evidence and emotional detachment, as any good scientist would.

Dr. Peterson saw a problem. The men (and women, but mostly men) of the West are declining — physically, intellectually, and morally. He studied the habits of those who eke out some meaning from their lives in this wasteland, and he wrote them down in a book. It’s as simple as that. He doesn’t claim any kind of divine revelation; he doesn’t say he’s smarter or more insightful than anyone else. He’s just a clinical psychologist looking to help people. And as he himself admits, 12 Rules “isn’t only written for other people. It’s a warning to me.”

This is why his critics despise him. Those on the Left detest that one of their own — an accomplished academic in a field dominated by progressives – is using their tools against them … Some on the Right, meanwhile, are wary of his lukewarm commitment to conservative orthodoxy. …

Worn down by hostile lefty nonsense?

Last week, it was revealed that Dr. Peterson is receiving treatment for his addiction to benzodiazepine, a tranquilizer used to treat anxiety. … Dr. Peterson nearly died from complications related to his addiction. … According to the Post, Dr. Peterson “has only just come out of an intensive care unit” and suffered “neurological damage,” which apparently resulted in a seizure disorder.

Of course, his progressive detractors are rejoicing. And of course, this is yet another symptom of our moral disease — the gangrenous soul of modern man. Those on the Left claim to be truly compassionate, unlike traditional Christians and their fellow-travelers (like Dr. Peterson). … Yet when a man nearly dies from his addiction to prescription drugs, they throw a party. And why? Because he holds opinions contrary to theirs. …

Dr. Peterson won’t be surprised to find progressives celebrating his brush with death. And frankly I doubt he’ll care. As he’s quick to remind his reader, “you’re not as nice as you think.” But mark my words: if and when Dr. Peterson returns to the public eye, he’ll speak with a new wisdom drawn from his experience. …

Up until this point, Dr. Peterson’s advice has been mostly of the fatherly sort: make your bed, etc. That’s why he’s struck a chord with his legions of fans. So many young men lack real father figures, and while we shouldn’t need a college professor to teach our sons Manhood 101, we do. Dr. Peterson has done an admirable job. …

The whole of modernity seems geared up specifically to wreak havoc on one’s mental health. From blue-light smartphones to alarmist news media, Western man is on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.

Yet the single greatest cause of anxiety, no doubt, is the decline of traditional Christianity. … Christian civilization was built upon two simple laws: love for God and love for one’s fellow man. Nobody, left- or right-wing, has much use for either principle today. …

Those unmade beds are only a symptom of a far more dangerous malaise: selfishness, rootlessness, and (inevitably) despair. …

Dr. Peterson has long expressed admiration for Christianity. He once said the Bible is, “for better or worse, the foundational document of Western civilization.” And his pessimistic view of human nature is entirely in keeping with the Faith. “Only man will inflict suffering for the sake of suffering,” he noted. “And with this realization we have full legitimization of the idea of Original Sin.”

He’s right, of course. But that’s the easy part. Only the most foolhardy optimist would deny that human nature is, in some very meaningful way, Fallen.

hat-tip Stephen Neil