27/02/2019
Dieuwe de Boer
Opinion
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Jordan Peterson Captivated Audience & Spooked Journos At Sold-Out Auckland Town Hall Event

You've undoubtedly heard of the "controversial" Dr. Jordan Peterson, yet last Monday I heard a man who doesn't have anything controversial or radical to say. You've probably heard of his "mostly young male" audience, although that demographic was a clear minority at the Auckland Town Hall. You've probably heard that he always tells people to "clean their room", a phrase that was not once mentioned during the evening.

I was critical when I first heard of Jordan Peterson and his rapid rise to fame. I had read a bit about him, I'd listened to an interview or two, and thought that if this guy is the greatest philosopher of our age then we're stuffed. Well, I must concede that while maybe we are stuffed, he is one of the great men of our age. At the very least, he has one of the weightiest and most mesmerising voices in academia and politics.

Dr. Peterson brings something simple, something lacking, and something ancient to a vast modern audience: a path from chaos to order; and from nihilism to purpose.

The queue to get into the venue ran over a hundred metres down Queen Street. One narrow doorway, guarded by security, marked the entrance into a checkpoint. Bags were searched, anything larger than an A3 piece of paper was held in storage. Attendees were scanned with hand-held metal and explosives detectors. The past antics of "Peace Action" had been taken seriously. The show started half an hour late as a result, but after a brief introduction, Dr. Jordan Peterson strode on stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

"Discipline" was the first word he uttered, setting the theme for the night. He likes to study the etymology of words, and discipline has its origin in self-punishment and penance.

I'd heard that some regard listening to Jordan Peterson as a spiritual experience. There is some merit to that claim. "We are all made in the image of God," he said when discussing the need to justify our own existence. He quoted more Scripture than you'd have heard in the majority of the city's modern churches on Sunday morning, and mentioned Hell more times in one evening than a modern pastor might in his entire ministry. This is not to say that Jordan Peterson's message was a theological one—far from it—but by intertwining his common sense message with the eloquence of the King's English he creates a magical connection with his listeners. Peterson referred to God in the abstract. The Word is how we build ourselves and others up. Truth is not lying. Hell is despair, nihilism, and suicide. Sin was a word he didn't mention, but quickly diverged to a synonym when it was on the tip of his tongue. While he didn't quite say it that night, we can connect the dots: salvation from postmodernism comes through discipline. The 12 Rules for Life. The antidote to chaos.

Some have said Dr Peterson is a "gateway drug" to Christianity, of that I am not sure, but he is a "gateway drug" away from nihilism and collectivism.

The bulk of his ninety minute talk was filled with an explanation of each chapter in his book, 12 Rules for Life. I confess that I haven't read the book, although I would very much like to now. Each rule had a great story behind it and lots of practical real-life application attached. A lot of his advice was targeted at young parents and parents who are ready to push their children out of the nest.

When dealing with nihilism and those who claim life is ultimately pointless, he said that's not an answer you can give to a 6 year-old dying of cancer. The postmodernist answer would be to take a lethal injection and end the pain and suffering, the initial implementation for which is currently running through our parliament. Dr. Peterson's view is that even suffering has the potential to affect a multitude of people in a profound way, to shape, even enrich, the lives of thousands of others. I can't help but point out that he stops short of something far more profound, because even his message, while better than nihilism, offers no true hope beyond death.

At one point, Dr Peterson broke down in tears while discussing the harsh reality that life is full of suffering. The audience responded with sustained applause as he collected himself. "Thank you," he said. "I'm a bit more emotional than usual, because I just got off the phone to my daughter as she's undergoing another operation today." He could attest from his own experience that the human condition is filled with pain.

He spent the last thirty minutes talking about his self-authoring programme. He cited the huge improvements in test scores when getting students to spend a few hours writing about their lives: where they came from, their upbringing, things they'd done, and goals they had. This simple exercise did incredible things for student motivations—if you don't know where you've been, then you won't know where you're going.

In the closing moments he made reference to schools being structured to produce factory workers, a hangover from the days where most students went on to become factory workers. He didn't have much time to expound on it, but a shift away from the current schooling model would help better prepare young people for the challenges of modern life.

Looking back at the past week, we can see how absolutely insane the legacy media has been driven by Jordan Peterson. I must have read at least a dozen headlines written by freaked out sheltered journalists who couldn't believe the good doctor's message resonated with sold-out audiences in a country they thought firmly in their postmodernist grip. For them Peterson's tour has been a success too, their clickbait and misinformation will doubtless have earned them their bread.

Their tactics will get less effective the more they employ them. After this week, a few more New Zealanders will have left the darkness created by the media establishment and join us in the light.

The legacy media is afraid, and so they should be. Jordan Peterson threatens everything they value.