Book Review — "Beyond Order" by Jordan Peterson

 I am a Jordan Peterson fan. I often eat dinner and listen to his lectures. I read his first book, \”12 Rules for Life\” several years ago and was thoroughly engaged with it. Jordan Peterson claims to be a psychologist, but he is a very well educated man. Well educated in subjects beyond psychology, such as philosophy, religion, and even biology. He is a university professor and taught at Harvard for several years.

The book \”Beyond Order,\” a kind of sequel to the first 12 Rules book, was written during a very difficult time in Jordan Peterson\’s life. His daughter and wife had some severe health problems over a span of a few years; then Peterson himself had to go through a very difficult detoxification from benzodiazepines, an anti-anxiety drug. I think this journey through a dark valley is reflected in Beyond Order. While the cover of Peterson\’s first 12 Rules book is white, Beyond Order has a black cover. The darkness shows up in the writing. Beyond Order is much more complicated to read than Peterson\’s first 12 Rules book, and projects a much darker, or deep, human ethos. Peterson\’s favorite word in Beyond Order seems to be malevolent. I think that I only understood portions of Beyond Order because I have listened to many of Peterson\’s podcasts.

It was at rule eleven and page 353 that I received a great message. Rule eleven is \”Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful, or arrogant.\”

     After seemingly endless discussions of how the world and other people are malevolent: \”The right attitude to the horror of existence–the alternative to resentment, deceit, and arrogance–is the assumption that there is enough of you, society, and the world to justify existence. That faith in yourself, your fellow man, and the structure of existence itself: the belief that there is enough of you to contend with existence and transform your life into the best it could be. Perhaps you could live in a manner whose nobility, grandeur, and intrinsic meaning would be of sufficient import that you could tolerate the negative elements of existence without becoming so bitter as to transform everything around you into something resembling hell.

    \”Of course, we are oppressed by the fundamental uncertainty of Being. Of course, nature does us in, in unjust and painful ways. Of course, our societies tend toward tyranny, and our individual psyches toward evil. But that does not mean that we cannot be good, that our societies cannot be just, and that the natural world cannot array itself in our favor. What if we constrain our malevolence a bit more, serve and transform our institutions more responsibly, and be less resentful? God only knows what the ultimate limit to that might be. How much better could things become if we all avoided the temptation to actively or passively warp the structure of existence; if we replaced anger with the vicissitudes of Being with gratitude and truth? And if we all did that, with diligent and continual purpose, would we not have the best chance of keeping at bay those elements of self, state, and nature that manifest themselves so destructively and cruelly, and that motivate our turning against the world?\”

It occurred to me that I don\’t see such great malevolence in the world as Peterson. I see greater well-being. Especially, I see Being as benign. Nature is not out to get me, and neither are most people. I can take Peterson\’s advice and live in such a way as to make the world a better place. I do not at all have the temptation to warp the structure of reality by doing evil. I have a conscious and continuous practice of gratitude. I have tools to deal with my resentment and anger. And, all I need to do is continue to live in the energy of well-being. Manifesting well-being is the purpose I carry out and my contribution to the world. These realizations about myself reflect many years of emotional work on myself, so it is awesome to feel as wonderful about myself as I do. 

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