Jordan Peterson: Before trying to save the world try cleaning your room first


Before trying to accomplish big things, Jordan Peterson suggests starting with smaller tasks like cleaning your room. PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

Ressentiment — hostile resentment — occurs when individual failure or insufficient status is blamed both on the system within which that failure or lowly status occurs and then, most particularly, on the people who have achieved success and high status within that system. The former, the system, is deemed by fiat to be unjust. The successful are deemed exploitative and corrupt, as they can be logically read as undeserving beneficiaries, as well as the voluntary, conscious, self- serving, and immoral supporters, if the system is unjust. Once this causal chain of thought has been accepted, all attacks on the successful can be construed as morally justified attempts at establishing justice — rather than, say, manifestations of envy and covetousness that might have traditionally been defined as shameful.

There is another typical feature of ideological pursuit: the victims supported by ideologues are always innocent , and the perpetrators are always evil . But the fact that there exist genuine victims and perpetrators provides no excuse to make low-resolution, blanket statements about the global locale of blameless victimization and evil perpetration — particularly of the type that does not take the presumed innocence of the accused firmly into account. No group guilt should be assumed — and certainly not of the multigenerational kind. This is an invitation to both paranoia and persecution. A world where only you and people who think like you are good is also a world where you are surrounded by enemies bent on your destruction, who must be fought.

It is much safer morally to look to yourself for the errors of the world, at least to the degree to which someone honest and free of willful blindness might consider. You are likely to be much more clear minded about what is what and who is who and where blame lies once you contemplate the log in your own eye, rather than the speck in your brother’s. It is probable that your own imperfections are evident and plentiful, and could profitably be addressed, as step one in your Redeemer’s quest to improve the world. To take the world’s sins onto yourself — to assume responsibility for the fact that things have not been set right in your own life and elsewhere — is part of the messianic path: part of the imitation of the hero, in the most profound of senses. This is a psychological or spiritual rather than a sociological or political issue. The idea that they do is the product of twentieth-century cults. The beliefs of these cults are simultaneously naive and narcissistic, and the activism they promote is the resentful and lazy person’s substitute for actual accomplishment. The single axioms of the ideogically possessed are gods, served blindly by their proselytizers.

Like God, however, ideology is dead. The bloody excesses of the twentieth century killed it. We should let it go, and begin to address and consider smaller, more precisely defined problems.

Source: Jordan Peterson | NP

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