How to Change The World

It may just be a gut feeling, but hashtags, online petitions, and student marches don’t seem to do any good. Professor Jordan Peterson knows why.

I spend a lot of time hearing the strong opinions of young people. I enjoy doing this, and having a conversation about where those opinions come from and where they lead to.

But, at the same time, I get really nervous about this strong push toward using the right words, being politically correct, or ‘woke’, and this general militant feel to politics.

On top of this, I am really suspicious about this political adulation of ‘youth’ and ‘young people’. Surely in the complicated field of politics, experience, and a measured approach to social problems, are to be valued above passion and loud voices?

So what’s the alternative?

YouTube celebrity, Professor Jordan Peterson, has some interesting advice for young people. Don’t worry about changing the world – focus on tidying your room instead.

And that is not only true of young people, but all of us. There is always a constant pull between public and private life, which needs to be balanced. But in an era of social media lynching and intense political correctness, along with mental health and addiction crises, the pendulum needs to swing back toward sorting out our private lives.

Peterson notes, in the video below, “You shouldn’t make a demonstration of public virtue till you’ve straightened out your damn life.”

Peterson, who has come to fame as a psychology professor in Canada vehemently opposed to the enforced speech of western political correctness, has identified perhaps the chief problem with modern politics – its Puritanism. We think we can easily sort out baddies from goodies, and obviously we always consider ourselves one of the goodies, one of the noble warriors for a better world. And that is very dangerous. Not only does it mask the everyday evil in all of our hearts, it puts that evil to work subconsciously in a public fashion.

So here’s a challenge to all of us – sort out the inner world before we tackle the outer. Focus on not being a burden to society and our families before we try to change them. Maybe even take the plank out of our own eye before we look at the splinter in our neighbour’s.

Once we do that, life can get really interesting.

In the video above, Peterson quotes Carl Jung, who himself noted the answer a monk once gave to a question as to why modern people don’t hear God’s voice or see his wonders like the prophets of old:

“The reason modern people can’t see God is that we won’t look low enough.”

The way of God is perhaps too little for us modern politicians. We lack the humility and wonder to see, as the poet William Blake did, “the world in a grain of sand… heaven in a wild flower… infinity in the palm of [our] hands, and eternity in an hour.”

So, maybe this weekend, just once, we can tidy our rooms, do some DIY, cook a nice meal, or even pray, and forget about Trump and Zuma for just a moment.

Maybe that’s how the world is changed.