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Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s personal troubles are celebrated by his detractors. After his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, opened up about the difficulties her father faced during this past year, a torrent of ill-wishes were released to social media.
A data scientist, engineer and social justice activist had this to say: “do I think he deserves sympathy despite him not extending it to others? Also no.”
Peterson’s legacy is evident in just how many people have been helped by his work. His message is simple, to take charge of yourself and your life, to avoid being controlled by aimless desire, and if you don’t know where to start, begin by cleaning your room.
A professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa also prefers to show no sympathy. Here’s hoping he doesn’t teach ethics.
Peterson’s message is one that so many who hear it can relate to, and he’s travelled the world speaking to sold-out audiences. His views are rooted in western ideas, stem from our most ancient myths and legends, and embrace the Christian hero story of self-sacrifice as the ultimate strength.
A writer for the Toronto Guardian had this to say.
Some guy with the Twitter username “im nice” who fancies himself a comedian had this to say:
Peterson has been vilified by detractors in media and the public at large about as much as he has been praised. The reasons behind this are that people don’t like to hear that relativism is not the best way to live life. People who are mired in our contemporary driving philosophy of meaninglessness, that no one way to live is better than any other, that no one choice is a better or worse choice than another, don’t want to listen to someone who says that the hard work of life is worth doing.
Yet a podcaster, community organizer, and author from Quebec City wishes eternal damnation on Jordan Peterson.
Peterson says that the idea that we should accept ourselves as we are is misguided, because at our core, we’re all probably monsters. He brings up the genocides and massacres of the 20th century as proof, invoking the memoirs of concentration camp guards to show that any of us are capable of the most horrific of human actions. None of us are safe from our own worst, or best, impulses. He holds us all accountable to ourselves, to each other, and to the people we love. He speaks about marriage as a relationship that must be nurtured and tended, not abandoned. Peterson recommends that you don’t let your kids turn into unlikeable children.
Not everyone wished him harm, and some pushed back.
Through podcasts, books, speaking engagements, interviews, and YouTube videos, he talks about how essential it is that we each take on our own hero’s journey. He brings up the legend of King Arthur’s knights, recommending that we must seek our journey in the dark place—meaning we must face our fears, not so that we can overcome them, but so that we can know that we are afraid and act bravely in the face of those fears. One very real place where this approach can be made is in the face of addiction. There is perhaps nothing more difficult than kicking an addiction that has you in its teeth.
On addiction and physical dependence, Peterson can speak from experience. That he has this understanding makes his message that much stronger. How trite it is to hear from a teetotaller who has never touched a drop that we should give up the hard stuff. Where it has more power is coming from someone who has been there before us, whether they’ve beaten the addiction or not.
The calls for Peterson’s head on a spike came from the contemporary left, which is a movement that mirrors the heavy-handed vitriol that we used to see with the late 20th century right. This moralistic grandstanding on a foundation based entirely on narcissistic pleasure principles is eating itself. An ideology that purports to care for others only cares for those who adhere to the ideology. There is a growing intolerance for disagreement.
Peterson’s struggle to overcome benzodiazepines is so incredibly humanizing and real. It shows us that, in many ways, he is right. We are all capable of losing control, even those among us who are so great at guiding us how not to. Peterson’s all too human struggle can give the rest of us strength to know that we are not alone in ours. The identitarian, intolerant left could do well to face its demons, just as Peterson is facing his.