I'm enjoying Jordan Peterson's book, "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos." Peterson is a psychologist who became a celebrated professor through his lectures and You Tube videos.
Below is an excerpt that I liked from his chapter on Rule 6: Set Your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World.
I don't actually believe that this is either necessary or a good thing -- to get one's life all perfect before criticizing the world. Hey, I'm not about to give up my criticisms of Trump just because I have some failings. But in general what Peterson says makes sense.
The world is a messy place. It is full of tragedy. I like how Peterson urges us to strip life down to its bare tragedies, rather than layering an extra unnecessary dose of our own crap on top of them.
Clean Up Your Life
Consider your circumstances. Start small. Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you? Are you working hard on your career, or even your job, or are you letting bitterness and resentment hold you back and drag you down?
Have you made peace with your brother? Are you treating your spouse and your children with dignity and respect? Do you have habits that are destroying your health and well-being? Are you truly shouldering your responsibilities? Have you said what you need to say to your friends and family members? Are there things that you could do, that you know you could do, that would make things around you better?
Have you cleaned up your life?
If the answer is no, here's something to try: Start to stop doing what you know to be wrong. Start stopping today. Don't waste time questioning how you know that what you're doing is wrong, if you are certain that it is. Inopportune questioning can confuse, without enlightening, as well as deflecting you from action.
Your entire Being can tell you something that you can neither explain nor articulate. Every person is too complex to know themselves completely, and we all contain wisdom that we cannot comprehend.
So, simply stop, when you apprehend, however dimly, that you should stop. Stop acting in that particular, despicable manner. Stop saying those things that make you weak and ashamed. Say only those things that make you strong. Do only those things that you could speak of with honesty.
You can use your own standards of judgment. You can rely on yourself for guidance. You don't have to adhere to some external, arbitrary code of behavior (although you should not overlook the guidelines of your culture. Life is short, and you don't have time to figure everything out on your own. The wisdom of the past was hard-earned, and your dead ancestors may have something useful to tell you.)
Don't blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your enemies. Don't reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. Have some humility. If you cannot bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city? Let your own soul guide you. Watch what happens over the days and weeks.
When you are at work you will begin to say what you really think. You will start to tell your wife, or your husband, or your children, or your parents, what you really want and need. When you know that you have left something undone, you will act to correct the omission. Your head will start to clear up, as you stop filling it with lies. Your experience will improve, as you stop distorting it with inauthentic actions.
You will then begin to discover new, more subtle things that you are doing wrong. Stop doing those, too. After some months and years of diligent effort, your life will become simpler and less complicated. Your judgment will improve. You will untangle your past. You will become stronger and less bitter. You will move more confidently into the future. You will stop making your life unnecessarily difficult.
You will then be left with the inevitable bare tragedies of life, but they will no longer be compounded with bitterness and deceit.
Perhaps you will discover that your now less-corrupted soul, much stronger than it might otherwise have been, is now able to bear those remaining, necessary, minimal, inescapable tragedies. Perhaps you will even learn to encounter them so that they stay tragic -- merely tragic -- instead of degenerating into outright hellishness.
Maybe your anxiety, and hopelessness, and resentment, and anger -- however murderous, initially -- will recede. Perhaps your uncorrupted soul will then see its existence as a genuine good, as something to celebrate, even in the face of your own vulnerability. Perhaps you will become an ever-more-powerful force for peace and whatever is good.
Perhaps you will then see that if all people did this, in their own lives, the world might stop being an evil place. After that, with continued effort, perhaps it could even stop being a tragic place. Who knows what existence might be like if we all decided to strive for the best?
Who knows what eternal heavens might be established by our spirits, purified by truth, aiming skyward, right here on the fallen Earth? Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.