The recent catastrophe that has befallen Dr. Jordan B Peterson has gotten quite a bit of traction. Those who disagree with him gleefully rejoice in his misfortunes. As someone who’s been following him for four-plus years, I find this telling.
The doctor of psychology is known for an admonition that has been all but buried in the vitriolic climate of social media. Well, not really buried, but strategically suppressed. In the name of politics and even ‘justice’ I’ve read of murder threats, slurs and slander and seen hateful images that would make your hair curl, and does make my blood boil. The professor advises repeatedly, “Speak the truth.” I suppose these people I refer to, if they are not bots, and even bots are programmed by people, believe they are telling their brand of truth.
But truth is not so easily wrested for our own use, though that would be oh-so handy. Nor is truth always easy to locate. In attempting to speak truth, we make many blunders. I know this because I can see yours far easier than I can see my own. And this gives me pause.
This blundering along, attempting to speak truth, is often peppered with opinionated insult, misinformed and often tribal fact-gathering, as well your garden variety self-centered motivation. The path to true anything (not just love) was never easy. And it reveals things, as we would expect the real truth to do. But it is worth trying for, because lying is everywhere, and no one really wants to be lied to, or to be held captive by a lie. In the current online communication maelstrom, some truths are not convenient or welcome. So be it. Listen anyway. Did you know that if you allow a couple hundred people to guess how many jellybeans are in a jar, tally up the total and divide that by the number of people guessing you can pretty nearly get to the correct number? In unity we have wisdom that we don’t possess individually. But all voices matter.
The alternative to speaking truth? Staying silent, while dying on the inside. I should know. I’ve done that for years. And while you may not agree with me on all my views (heaven help us if you did, for they are surely flawed) I’m hoping you will agree with me that a voice, however counter to the mainstream collective, has a right to be heard. Discrimination against a voice is still wrong even if that voice cries out against the things someone else believes in. How else are we to carve our way to a better future if we refuse to listen to each other? Simply pointing a middle finger or a gun instead of listening is not a sustainable way forward. Isn’t this the lesson we were supposed to have learned from the civil rights movement?
One of the things my European friend often puzzles at is the way we Americans frequently speak our mind. We were founded on the principle that each person has worth and dignity. It has taken us many blunders to get this far, and we have a long way to perfection, but we have come by listening to each other, by crafting a Republic that attempts to balance itself lest any one group or individual should dominate.
Dialogue is the way forward. Unless you believe in pure force. In which case, I’m saddened beyond words. We have a responsibility to preserve the dignity of the human race through dialogue, discussion, and talking things over in an open manner. What is left to us otherwise? A quick trip through the vulgar side of Twitter or Reddit, for starters, will reveal that. And if you’re still not convinced, consider the example of China, where speaking ‘truth’ can ruin your life.
I am one voice. I will not be silenced.