Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
SPOTLIGHT: The bestselling book, 12 Rules for Life, examines moral questions with a fresh eye.
BIG PICTURE: We all have our prejudices. Among mine is a low opinion of psychologists. After studying psychology for a few years, some people I’ve known seemed to lose all common sense.
It was with some trepidation, therefore, that I began reading psychology professor Jordan Peterson’s new book. Whatever my expectations, I wasn’t anticipating howling in sympathetic laughter. Yet there I was, reading this passage aloud to my husband:
What do you say to a severely intoxicated, violence-prone ex-biker-gang-president with patchy English when he tries to sell his microwave to you at your open door at two in the morning?
This amusing-from-a-safe-distance anecdote appears in Chapter 8, in which Peterson breathes new life into the old adage that the truth can set you free. During his student years, he and his wife rented an apartment in Montreal. The French-speaking landlords lived next door with their son, the former head of a motorcycle gang who’d recently been released from jail.
Occasionally, this muscular gent would drink copious amounts of alcohol, run out of money, and then knock on the door in the dead of night looking to trade small appliances for cash. After they’d ‘purchased’ a few things from him in this manner, Peterson and his wife agreed the pattern couldn’t continue. But how does one handle a situation of this kind?
As it turns out, with humility. With courage. And with honesty. When this happened yet again one night, Peterson told the biker that because he knew he was trying to stop drinking, supplying him with cash wasn’t helpful. Peterson also explained that these incidents were frightening his wife.
Rather than responding with violence, the biker ‘heard’ him. He departed, never again waking them in such a manner. Moreover, Peterson reports that their friendly, everyday relationship became “even more solid” afterward.
TOP TAKEAWAY: 12 Rules for Life argues persuasively that there’s a close link between individual and collective well-being – and that longstanding moral ideas are a gift from our ancestors.
|12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
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