Recently, on the Australian television program called “ABC Q&A,” Jordan Peterson was confronted by a young millennial with the following question.
“What is your answer to young people concerning some of the real big problems facing humanity like climate catastrophe? You talk so much about individual responsibility. Most of us are never going to be able to afford to have all of these assets over which we can have all of this responsibility. So, what is your advice, beyond banal comments like clean your room?”
Before Mr. Peterson could respond, another member of his panel interrupted and said, “Try answering the question on the collective responsibility for climate change, for example … Because I think the argument is that individual responsibility does not change the climate and does not fix the problem that needs global collective responsibility.”
Mr. Jordan answered, “Fundamentally I am a psychologist, and my experience has been that people can do a tremendous amount of good for themselves and the people around them by looking to their own inadequacies and their own flaws and the things that they’re not doing in their lives and starting to build themselves up as more powerful individuals. If they’re capable of doing that, then they are capable of expanding their career.
“And, if they are capable of expanding their career and their competence, then they’re capable of taking their place in the community as effective leaders. And, then, they are capable of making wise decisions instead of unwise [choices] when it comes to making collective decisions. I am not suggesting in the least that there is no domain for social action. I am suggesting that people who don’t have their own houses in order should be very careful before they go about reorganizing the world.”
And, thus, in just these few short sentences, Mr. Peterson offers this young woman (and everyone else listening in) some of the best advice she has likely ever received.
If you don’t have your act together, stop deflecting.
Stop the transference.
Stop trying to make yourself look good by blaming others.
Show some respect. Take responsibility.
Change yourself before you try to change everyone else!
Lose weight before you complain about the world being fat.
Stop overeating before you blame overconsumption for “climate change.”
Stop using planes, trains and automobiles before you condemn the world for its use of fossil fuels.
Start paying more taxes before you try to increase mine.
Give more of your own money to the poor before you call me greedy.
Remove the lock from your front door before you presume to lecture others about open borders.
If sanctuary cities are so good, prove it. Start with your own home and fill it with illegal immigrants before preaching to the rest of us about how walls are sinful.
Shouting duplicitous nonsense about tolerance and love when, at the same time, you are screaming, “I can’t tolerate your intolerance” and “I hate hateful people” is not a winning argument. Your hypocrisy results in few converts.
Claiming to be a champion of diversity and inclusion while working so hard to silence your political opponents, smacks of being two-faced and insincere. You are scoring no points by marching for freedom while waving your banner of fascism.
The problem starts with who you see in the mirror, not who you see out your window.
Revival always begins with repentance. It never starts with rebuke.
The seeds of revolution are integrity and sacrifice, not self-righteous and personal smugness.
John Newton didn’t say, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like ‘you.’” He stopped selling slaves before he ever thought of condemning anyone else for slavery.
Integrity assumes you actually care enough to practice what you preach.
Until you realize this, no one will ever take you seriously.
If you want to be treated like an adult, stop acting like an insolent child.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s …
“[E]very good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit … [B]y their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘[D]id we not [march for tolerance, inclusion, and social justice] in your name?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. [Get] away from me!’” — Jesus.
• Everett Piper, former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is a columnist for The Washington Times and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).