Friday, May 3, 2019

Only Twelve Rules? We can do that!

Months 3 and 4

The third book the budding book club read was too long to delve into in just on month. We read The 12 Rules for Life, An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson. Before this choice was made, we didn’t know that there has been some controversy around this author. Some said he is sexist, but I honestly didn’t investigate the concerns and just wanted to listen (in my case) with an open mind. Dr. Peterson is a professor of Psychology in Canada (no I am not going to give you his resume), and formerly of Harvard. He is originally from some small town or city in Canada where it gets really cold and miserable for more than half the year.

Anyway, he came up with a list of 12 Rules that people should live by and filled in the chapters with anecdotes and examples from his life, his friends’ lives, examples from contributors to his list that he elicited from an online forum. He made some pretty convincing arguments and showed himself to be a bit of an overachieving philosopher: someone who could really be interesting at dinner parties, but also someone who made you ready to go home as soon as dessert was finished. At least for me, someone who gets over stimulated easily in social situations. Your brain will get full quickly. This is why it took my group two months to digest it all. If being able to digest all of it was even possible.

The rules have interesting titles such as: Stand up straight with your shoulders back; Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them; Tell the truth or at least don't lie; Be precise in your speech. Certainly good advice and the stories add a lot of richness that illustrate why these concepts are important to living a good life. It was difficult arguing with many of these although I have heard some criticisms about his views on gender. Having been someone who needed a lot more caretaking after having children than I got, I agreed. When you are the one having children, it is up to your partner to step up and fill in where you are unable – though temporarily – so you do not also have to take care of your partner who feels set aside upon the arrival of a baby. It just made sense to me and I might feel differently had I adopted a baby and wasn’t in the vulnerable post partum state of mind and body many years ago.

Many concepts were complex and I know of several moments where I thought Dr. Peterson’s concepts intersected with Brene Brown’s and I thought, “a whole other book could be written at this point,” but more information kept coming to me and the thought came and left. I may go back to it, and see if I still think so after more reading. There is also a more in depth discussion of The Book of Genesis than I ever had in college that was a completely different take on the story of creation. Mind blown. Being allowed a glimpse into the way someone thinks who is a thinker, researcher, lecturer, for a living is fascinating for me, an observer of people on a close up basis. He does, however, read his own audio book, and let’s just say that not everyone has a good voice for dictating. He has a bit of an accent, being Canadian, and can sound like a big old nerd. However, knowing it is his voice lending itself to his ideas gives it a flow I have found hired voice actors don’t always provide when reading more technical material.

In short, following, integrating and living these rules will help humans live a less chaotic life. The book club continues to work on being people who stand tall, pet cats, being good listeners, letting kids take reasonable risks to become independent.

General Rating - A

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