I really appreciated this article, “Of Jordan Peterson and Cultural Action Heroes.”
I recently discovered Jordan Peterson and set out to give him a proper stalking and find out what he was all about. What I discovered left me vaguely unsettled, quite a few red flags flying about that I was unable to pin down. Right on schedule, along comes Cameron McAllister’s article saying all the things hovering around chaotically in my mind.
I really enjoy cultural action heroes, our radicals and rebels who challenge the status quo, BUT, I have very refined tastes, meaning you need to be a rebel with a clue, a purpose, a mission, and it must have integrity. No rebels just for the sake of rebelling. No Occupy Everything just because We Can.
Our modern cultural exchange goes something like this, dehumanize the enemy, and then make a video of yourself slaying the dragon, so we can all vicariously enjoy the battle without ever having to get our own hands dirty. You’ll sell a lot of books that way, too. Bonus.
Conflict sells, perhaps even better than sex sells. Manufactured conflict. Man the battle stations, we have an imaginary threat here, everybody grab their game controller, chose your sides, and let’s kill us some avatars, some labels, slay the designated enemy du jour. It’s exciting, it plays off our desire for dominance, conquest. For winning.
But is it truth? What are we actually “winning?”
Extra credit points if you can slay women, especially loud and obnoxious reporters or activists. The visual of manly verbal conquest adds a sexual element to what is already quite an enticing game. Why are we slaying relatively unknown female reporters? Because the king of the hill gets all the women, which is the whole point of conquest and battle in the first place. Watch her surrender to me…
Now we’ve got sex and conflict going on, which is very, very marketable. I’ve even got my own credit card at the ready…..
There comes a time when we need to put away such childish things and work together cooperatively. We should be less interested in winning any arguments, and more interested in being kind. Rather than whacking people over the head with what we believe is “right,” we should be listening more, and in the very process of listening, we can inadvertently help others discover what is “right” for their own selves.
That time was…..many days ago. Maybe even a few moons have now passed….
But of course, such behavior does not sell books, products, seminars, politics, nor does it make you a marketable brand. Jordan Peterson is building his brand and while blessed be the meek may be a bit of biblical truth, in the people world, we have little use for the meek, falsely perceiving them to be ineffective, weak, and certainly incredibly boring.
Here, buy this book, it will teach you how to submit more graciously towards one another, how to bless those who curse you, how to live in community with a cooperative spirit, showing kindness and mercy towards one another…….…Uh yeah, not going to be a bestseller. Even I am groaning. How totally……unexciting.
Who exactly tried to brand those crazy ideas, anyway? Bet the Guy got no likes on facebook and His Amazon reviews were probably terrible. Yeah, uh, the “Christian brand” is really not a best seller, not like mindlessly shooting at a lap top with a shotgun would be.
So what does all this ideological conflict produce? Book sales. You tube hits. Political favor. It does absolutely nothing to embiggen the conversation, it does not create, cooperate, innovate, and build something amazing in the world. It does not Get Things Done. All it does is to create imaginary divisions, build disunity, cast aside the outliers, invigorate the opposition, and eventually produce more radicals and rebels……for you to fight against.
We can become addicted to our own brain chemistry. Our own biology is powerful stuff and before you know it, we have gone all tribalistic, defending our territory, playing capture the flag as if ideas and ideologies are a tangible thing that can be claimed and owned, having far more worth and value than people themselves.
I get it. It is really tough to set aside your own instincts and to “refuse to buy into this pugilistic script,” as the article states. In all relationships however, we have to ask ourselves what is more important to me here, being kind or being right?
Don’t let the world subliminally sell you brands, marketing, and a way of being in the world that you did not sign up for. Pull back the curtain and see the wizard for what he is, this small elderly man playing a game. Toss out the script and refuse to be played.
The real cultural action heroes are a silent majority, mostly invisible to the mainstream, hundreds of thousands of people just walking out their faith in a million tiny ways. When the bible says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth,” in many ways we need to realize that we have inherited it. It is ours already. We are the salt of the earth, walking out our inheritance, being about the Father’s business, in a myriad of ways. As one we are nothing, but as many serving the King of Kings, we have inherited the world.
That is what it means to truly be a Cultural Action Hero.