During this week's edition of his lecture series exploring the psychological significance of the stories in the Old Testament, Canadian professor and free speech advocate Dr. Jordan Peterson discusses the importance of speaking truth to power.
Last week's edition of the Biblical lecture series was briefly and potentially accidentally censored by YouTube -- a Google company.
QUESTION: So this week we had the Google thing. There was the YouTube thing last week. What is going on with censorship?
JORDAN PETERSON: If you're in a workplace and pathological things are happening -- I'll make it easy. Here's how how you know pathological things are happening in your workplace, or happening with you. One of the two. But you can straighten it out.
If you're required to do things that make you feel weak or shamed, than stop. Don't do them.
Stop doing it.
That's one of the things I learned from [Alexandr] Solzhenitsyn and [Naftaly] Frankel --that systems go terribly out of control when people don't stop them when they are going mildly out of control.
You might think you should keep your God-damn head down and shut up -- and maybe you should -- that is good advice sometimes.
You don't want to make any more enemies than you need, and you don't want unnecessary trouble. But you need to ask yourself: What makes you think you're not selling your soul?
There is so much foolishness going on at the mid-level bureaucratic world now -- that is where all the tyranny seems to be focused. And the reason it multiplies is because sensible people say nothing when they should say something! What's so strange about that is there are way more sensible people, they just aren't as noisy.
So let's say something is bugging the hell out of you at work. You have to prepare to find a new job, that's the first thing. I don't that you should find another job, but you should be prepared to find another job. If possible you should prepare to find a better job, because if you can't tell someone to go to Hell, than you can't negotiate with them. If they've got you over a barrel than you can't say anything. So you've got to set yourself up so you've got some mobility. That's a really good principle in your life, period.
Set yourself up so you have a lateral move at hand.
And then you need to find out: Are there things at work that are disturbing my soul?
Okay, so first ask yourself: If I'm distrubed at work, I am probably weak, and decietful, and useless and lazy. Might as well start with that. Talk to some people... and find out: Are you stupid, decietful and lazy, or is there something not so good going on at work?
If you can eliminate your own individual pathology as the cause of your dissatisfaction, than maybe there is something rotten in the State of Denmark, and maybe you should say something before the whole damn collapses, because that can happen. It can happen in companies a lot faster than people ever think.
First of all, you might find if you say something, that that is a bloody adventure. You have to do it carefully, and you have to be prepared for it. It might be the best thing that ever happens to you, if you've careful about it, and get your words right. This is strategic battle, it is not something you wander into carelessly. You may find there are lots of people who feel the same way you do, and you're actually on to something, like a canary in a coal mine. Not just some psychopathic mouthpiece.
You have to ask yourself when you do what you do. Is this making you stronger or weaker?
If it is making you weaker, you have to ask yourself if that is what you want, because the weaker you get the more you get tyrannized. The weaker you get, the more bitter you get, the more you do terrible things like yell at your wife or hit your kids -- it is no joke to be tyrannized at work.
I would say you have an ethical responsiblity as a citizen to confront creeping tryanny wherever it appears.
Part of what we're learning from these stories is that if you're aimed at the good, which is a question you've really got ot ask yourself... than take heart, because you're a lot stronger than you think...
QUESTION: Google is not the only company that is imposing represive freedom of speech denying workplace codes, and everyone feels alone. They're all like: Why should I stand up and be a martyr, get fired like this guy at Google got fired. What is the point? I'm asking rhetorically. And how do you convince people there is a point to standing up?
PETERSON: The first thing you need to know is it is not futile. It is difficult, but it is not futile. If you get your words right, and you have something to say, there will be an impact of those words. It might not be the impact you choose.
The other thing to tell people is: Pick your poison. You might be in a situation where you don't have a cakewalk to the garden of paradise, you've got tyranny or famine, those are your choices. You get to pick which one you have, and I would say that if you are being oppressed, I mean in your soul, by what you are required to swallow at work, you think you're not paying a price for that?
You have no self respect, and worse than that, you are an agent of your own destruction, and you are letting people who are weak and corrupt win. And if you stood up, and stood up properly. You have to put yourself in order to do this, you can't do it casually. You have to do it from some position of strength.
What makes you think you couldn't scare them back into the corners? And that would be a good thing.
The alternative, personally, if bad... I've seen this with many people I have worked with who are being tyrannized in the workplace... to the point of collapse. Confronting these crazy, crazy things as sensible people, that is a terrible price to pay.
And then, if the foolishness isn't dealt with at the local level, when it is still relatively trivial, it will multiply until it is dealt with at the social level.
We're seeing that happen already. Anti-Fa is a good sign of that. Problems that aren't solved multiply, and soon people fight. Better to argue than to fight, unless you want to fight, and some people want to fight...
You have a duty, maybe that is why you stand up. because you have a God damn duty to stand up and just say what you have to say. You don't even have to have a point, just: This is how it looks to me like the guy at Google did...
He went to a diversity training seminar and thought, no, I don't agree with that. And so then they asked for feedback, so he wrote this document a month ago. He got no response to it! And then it bounced around Google and escaped into the outside world. All he was doing is he was told a bunch of things he didn't think we true, and he wrote some things he thought were probably true, and he launched it out saying these things are probably true.
He paid a price for it, but maybe we'll see what price he paid for it. He's going to be a lot tougher in two years than he was two years ago.
Many thanks to Dr. Jordan Peterson for the lecture, and for the 'Bite-sized philosophy' YouTube Channel for the clip. Watch the full lecture via Dr. Jordan Peterson:
Week 11: Sodom and Gomorrah: 'Often interpreted as an injunction against homosexuality (particularly by those simultaneously claiming identity as Christians and opposed to that orientation), the stories of the angels who visit Abraham, bless him, and then rain destruction on Sodom and Gomorrah are more truly a warning against mistreatment of the stranger and impulsive, dysregulated, sybaritic conduct. Abraham opens his heart and hearth to the stranger. The denizens of Lot’s soon-to-be lost cities threaten them with violent rape. God exacts a terrible retribution. The warning is clear.'