“12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos” by Jordan B. Peterson is one of my few literary forays into non-fiction. I have been following Dr. Peterson through YouTube for a few months now and cheered most of what has to say. He has had a long career as a psychologist and professor currently teaching at the University of Toronto where he has bedeviled some of his fellow faculty and many others.
Some of the rules such as “make friends with people who want the best for you” or “pursue what is meaningful-not what is expedient” are pretty straight-forward, however there are still pretty lengthy explanations to follow. “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding” and “pet a cat when you encounter one in the street” do require a bit more interpretation. I won’t get into all twelve rules here, but one should peruse he table of contents. There are quite cleverly stated, even the less ambiguous ones.
Peterson has a lot to say in this one, and he does so eloquently. There were a few times I had to remind myself as to which rule I was reading. He’s a psychologist and academics, so he has a propensity for verbosity, on the page anyway. Fortunately, Peterson is quite gifted in his presentation of both professional and personal encounters.
This book has garnered a lot attention and criticism, however I think Peterson is spot on with his ideas. The simple takeaway seems to be center around the idea of people being responsible for finding their own sense of peace and order. Of course, he does acknowledge that help from others can be a key component, but one must be discerning about who they turn to for that help. The book seems to be a refusal to merely accept the circumstances that could be unsettling or threatening one’s well-being and encourages the recognition of every persons’ uniqueness.
A lot of what is said has lined up with some of my own opinions and ideas about people, relationships, and responsibility. I can also see how people have found this volume quite inspiring. Peterson is realistic and somewhat blunt in his observations, but he also has a sense of optimism that comes through at the right moments.
I was pleasantly surprised by the plethora of Biblical references here. As a practicing, and at times struggling Christian, I was impressed about how deftly he worked many Biblical stories and concepts into his expositions.
The Bible should always be the first place we go for inspiration and knowledge of God, however I think most would do well to have Peterson’s book not too far out of reach.
I was glad to have finally purchased this volume and to get through it. It does solidify my hope that I will one day have the opportunity to meet the good doctor.
After reading what could be a defining piece of literary work from a real-life thinker, time to check in with one of my favorite fictional thinkers. Sherlock Holmes has to face “The Instrument of Death” in the latest novel by David Stuart Davies.