Saturday, September 1, 2018

Rook Recommendation: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Rook Recommendation: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

I was pleased when the book club I belong to selected this book for our next meeting, because I had just published an article entitled “The Rules for a Long and Happy Life” ( and was interested in what Peterson had to say. There are no similarities at all. If you know the difference between strategy and tactics, I would say Peterson’s rules are strategic while mine are tactical. He is philosophical where I am practical. That said, this is a wonderful book. I am encouraged that it has sold a million copies, as my fear is this is yet another great book that will not be read or even understood by those who need it the most, especially as it requires a lot of cognitive focus. That, alas, includes many of the pundits who are attacking it. I doubt they understood it, or perhaps even read it, the state of the media being what it is. Peterson may have only 12 rules, but he presents a long and wide-ranging discussion of the foundations of each of them. As a clinical psychologist, he brings not only his own experience into their formulation, but also quotes from many of the giants in the mental health field. He discusses religion a lot, which doubtless is one of the reasons he’s under fire from the left, but while Christianity get a lot of ink, he ties the Bible stories to many other religions, from Taoism to the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. His discussion of both child-rearing and standing up for your self could be stand alone pieces. He critiques the beliefs of both the Left and the Right, but it is, naturally the Left who seem to have taken most umbrage, particularly at his argument that all human societies, regardless of the form of government, have dominance hierarchies. In fact all animals do, as he demonstrates with lobsters, a species that was old when the dinosaurs appeared. This, of course, hits those who believe in the perfectibility of humans and the possibility of utopia, where they live. I especially appreciated what he had to say about organ transplants. I was Dx with pulmonary fibrosis in 2006 and on 12/23/13, I had a right lung transplant. I spend 1.5 hours every morning and again every evening managing it. But I'm alive and for the last year back to work 20-hours a week at the VA, interviewing vets and writing their life stories for their records and families. I know several transplant patients who have died because as Peterson points out, they didn’t do what they needed to do to stay alive. This includes a couple who didn't stay with the program, including one i know didn't go to PT or take his meds. As a Marine buddy and fellow patient said, "He's doing it his way, not the VA way." Peterson offers the best explanation for non-compliance by transplant patients that I have heard. I cannot do justice to such a wide-ranging book in a short review. I urge you to read it.

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