Australias John Anderson Dr Jordan B Peterson In Conversation

[Music] [Music] [Music] well dr. jordan pearson welcome to Sydney on your Australian tour you're talking to packed out houses and the interest is extraordinary and we've had the opportunity to talk personally and I can understand why I want to begin with something that Churchill wrote in the 1930s and he said this one of the signs of a Great Society is the diligence with which it passes culture from one generation to the next when one generation no longer passes on the things that are dear to it it's heroes and their stories in its religious faith it's in effect saying that past is null and void it's of no value he goes on to say that leaves young people feeling a lack of direction and a lack of purpose and opens them to the dictum of Karl Marx that our people derived of their history are easily persuaded have we stripped our young people of purpose and we knee and left them open to being bullied around well there's two things about that that I think are really worth worth laying out the first is an analysis of the purpose of memory now because people think that the purpose of memory is to remember the past and that's not the purpose of memory the purpose of memory is to extract out from the past lessons to structure the future and now that's the purpose of personal memory and so you're done with a memory when you've extracted out the information that you can use to guide yourself properly in the future so if you have a traumatic memory for example that's really obsessing you if you analyze that memory to the point where you figured out how you put yourself at risk and you can determine how you might avoid that in the future then the emotion associated with that goes away so memory is a has a very pragmatic function and cultural memory is the same thing is that we need to extract out stories from our past that structure our future and we need that because first of all if you don't have a purpose let's say it isn't that your life becomes neutral in a meaningless sense it's that your life becomes characterized by unbearable suffering because the baseline condition of life is something like unbearable suffering and what you have to set against that is a noble and worthwhile purpose and hopefully hopefully your determination of that purpose is buttress to some degree by the wisdom of the past because you can't conjure something like that up on your own and if you provide people with nobility of purpose then they can tolerate the suffering of existence without becoming entirely corrupted by it and cultures that don't do that it isn't even so much that they die it's that cultures that don't do that are dead they're done they don't have a story anymore and they don't have a call to adventure and then well then everyone suffers stupidly as a consequence it's a very bad thing so Churchill made the same observation that many of the great psychologists and philosophers made in the early part of the 20th century it's like bring the story forward and and propagate it and make it the most noble possible story and then you motivate people to do to transcend themselves which they need to do so yes he's exactly right in his diagnosis just to stay with him for a moment he's painted as the great defender of freedom it's possible that your country Canada and certainly my country Australia would have not continued as free societies had it not been for that man courageously standing at a time when so few did he wasn't the inventor of freedom freedom as we understand it and I want to unpack that a bit something very very few people in very few cultures down through the ages and even today have ever really experienced yes and partly because we're afraid of it I would say I mean people think of freedom as the ability to implement your whim and freedom opens up that as a possibility but sustainable freedom that isn't what it's about at all it's about it's primarily about responsibility it's about determining which load you're going to pick up and carry that's the proper definition of appropriate freedom it's not grout Dillman gratification of instantaneous impulse it's self-evident that doesn't work two-year-olds do that and that's why they can't live in the world they can't organize themselves across time they can't sacrifice the moment for the future and the more sophisticated you get I suppose in some sense the more you're able to do that and then your freedom becomes the freedom to choose the proper responsibilities and that's not that's also not something that we've been good at communicating to young people if we talk to them about responsibility we did generally do it in a finger-wagging sort of way it's like well you're breaking the rules you're a bad person and and and well that may be true because people break the rules and there's no shortage of badness in people but the the proper message for young people is to say well no you don't understand you you want to take on responsibility you want to take on the heaviest load that you can conceive of that you might be able to move because it gives your life nobility and purpose and that offsets the tragedy and and not only psychologically not only does it all set it psychologically because you have a purpose and and and something to wake up for right and to face the difficulties of the day but also because if you face the difficulties of the day properly you actually ameliorate suffering not only in the psychological sense but because you make the world at least a less terrible place and that's something right to move things away from hell is something even if you're not you know self-evidently moving forthrightly to heaven to move things away from the worst they can be is well that's a noble goal in and of itself so and young people are starving for that idea it's very interesting to watch as I look at it it seems to me that that Acton had it right freedom properly understood this needs to be seen as a negative and as a positive the negatives is is a sort of concept of freedom from right fear addiction persecution Taron are tyranny in a personal sense and then freedom to be used to reach your potential but it seems to me that what's missing is an understanding that freedom exercised within a framework of responsibility are you doing what you ought will guarantee ongoing freedom for yourself and for your neighbors freedom exercised in a way that confuses it with license tends to destroy freedom in fact you could even go so far as to say that misunderstood freedom turns out to be its own worst enemy well that's that's the that's the difficult distinction between freedom of the moment and freedom of the freedom with everything taken into account and I'm a real admirer of the work of Jean Piaget and Piaget is a developmental psychologist and few people know the world's most well known developmental psychologist and few people know that he was actually motivated in his intellectual pursuits by the desire to reconcile science with religion that was what his driving force from the time that he was a young man he wouldn't know that even necessarily by reading his writings because it's implicit rather than explicit in them but he he he has a different model of what constitutes morality than than Freud Freud's model is combative it's sort of the super-ego as tyrant so the super-ego would be the strictures of society the it'd the biological impulses and the eagle crushed between those right so the ego is this thing that's crushed between nature and culture and so it's a really it's a tense and combat of model of the human psyche and there's something about it that's that's that's accurate because some of the restrictions that are put on your impulse gratification are imposed on you in in a sense tyrannically but Piaget his perspective was much more optimistic and I think much more accurate he noticed that as children organized themselves spontaneously as they developed especially within the confines of their own spontaneous play they didn't so much subsume lurk or inhibit their dark and aggressive impulses as make them sophisticated and transform them into universally acceptable games so for Piaget a game that a group of children were playing that all of them were playing voluntarily and that was going well and that they all wanted to continue playing was a microcosm of society and and literally a microcosm of society the reason the children were playing those games was to practice being productive members of society and he felt that the appropriate game tended towards what he described as an equilibrate date so an equilibrate estate would be a game that you'll play because you've decided it's a good game but that you can play with others because they've also decided that it's a good game and so that can work at the individual level and at the familial level and at the social level and if you get all those things working simultaneously then you have a sustainable enterprise and it's it's predicated not so much on the on the inhibition of impulse or on the regulation of it but of the integration of impulses into a into a pattern of being that gratifies them on a relatively permanent basis so you know if you want to go to university and become a physician I think there's a lot of sacrifice of impulsive gratification that goes along with that but if you become a physician then it's a noble enterprise people support you socially and all the needs that you need to have fulfilled will also be fulfilled by that enterprise well that's a way better model and so it's strange that the maximum freedom comes with the adoption of a discipline and then also the adoption of responsibility that frees you up and everyone else around you in the long run and if you explain that to people especially in this day and age when they be fed a never-ending diet of idiot rights and freedoms they're immediately on board with it because they know I know that most of the meaning that people experience in their life is a consequence of adopting responsibility so they're starving for that idea to be articulated opens up a whole can of very very interesting issues let's try and pick a couple of but the first but if I do it's evident to me and I'm an enormous encouraged by this because you know I'm a passionate Australian I want this country to be the sort of place that offers opportunities of the sort that I had when I was young you know I've had my opportunities but I look at my kids generation what's going to be there for them if we keep feeding the sort of thin gruel in reality the people turning out in vast numbers every one of your talks in Australia's been over subscribed massively it tells you they kind of get those more to this I think they're being told oh yeah they know well it's one of the things that's so interesting about dealing with archetypal themes you know archetypal themes are archetypal because actually speak of the structure of human experience that's why they last and so it's human nature and human experience has a pattern you don't have the capacity to articulate that pattern as an individual in part because your life is too short you just can't figure it out but the the ancient representations of those patterns are everywhere around you and you you know some of them in image you you caught on to them automatically you you you fall into them if you go to a movie for example because movies always express archetypal themes if you hear them articulated you think I knew that I knew that I just don't know how to say it that's that's the Platonic idea of of learning is remembering your soul already knows but it doesn't have the words yeah and so when people talk to me about watching my lectures let's say they say they basically say one of two things if it if it's not just a simple thank you they say one of two things a third of them say quarter for them say when I listen to you talk it's as if you're telling me things that I already know it's like yeah well that's exactly right because that's what archetypal stories are they're the description of what you already know but that can be articulated and then who you are and how you see yourself and the way you describe yourself or all become the same thing so that's wonderful then you're not at odds with yourself you know and then you have then you're a functioning unity and that makes you much stronger and more indomitable than you would otherwise be and then the other thing that people say and this is more like 3/4 of them is that they say I was in a very dark place I was addicted I was I was drinking too much I had a fragmented relationship with my fiancee and I wasn't getting married things weren't going where very well with my family my relationship with my father was damaged I didn't have any aim I was wasting my time some variant of that some combination of those and they said well hmm I've been watching your lectures I've decided to establish a purpose I'm trying to tell the truth and things are way better and I've and so let's say I've done maybe eight or nine large-scale public talks in the last two months so that's probably 20,000 people and about half of them half of them estate afterwards to talk to me so that's about 7,000 people who have said that to me and then people stopped me on the street all the time and tell me exactly that story which is just wonderful like you can't imagine how good it is to be able to go to places you've never been and to have people stop you on the streets spontaneously and say look my life is way better than it was it's like it's so good and so and I've got like I don't know 35,000 letters from people since last August it's more than that I can't keep track of them and it's exactly the same thing like 3/4 the quarter of them say well you've given me the words to say what I already knew was true and thank you for that I can see that in the audience it's so interesting because I can lay out a story people go like this and say they're doing that all the time it's like the lights are going on and that's a really while there's almost nothing better than that to watch lights go on when you're talking to people it's like that's just absolutely fantastic but to get this response from people my father I have my father's about 80 he's 83 I think 81 he's 81 and I put him in charge of going through my viewer email which is an overwhelming job but no he we've had discussions about this constantly he's overwhelmed by the fact that so many people are writing and saying the same thing it's like I have a purpose man my life actually matters I finally realized that and I'm putting it into practice and I'm bearing up under the heaviest load I can imagine and it's really helping it's like God and that's tens of thousands of responses now so it's it's you couldn't hope for anything better than that there's zero harm in it right it's just people putting their lives together they're not mucking about with other people and I'm trying to make broad-scale social transformations about which they have no idea they're trying to make their immediate environment better and it's working it's like great well great you say there's zero ha minute I'd say as a form of legislature that there's an enormous amount of good enough huh a country is only there's some type of the people that make it up to the extent that they're put together a resilient AV contribute don't have to ask others to help them the stronger the nation oh this is so yes and rapidly like I I mean I think I was thinking the other day some journalist asked me why the audience why people are responding so positively to what I'm saying the young men for example and I thought yeah that's a good question says well I'm actually on their side I'm pretty happy that I'm really happy that they're not wasting their lives I'm really sad to see that people are disenchanted and nihilistic and depressed and anxious and aimless and and perverse and vengeful and and all of those things it's terrible and then to see people question whether that's necessary and then to start to rise out of it it's like it's so fun like last night I was at after my talk it's overwhelming I don't usually think about these things but I was I was after my talk last night and so all these people line up and you know they have their 15 15 seconds with me and they're kind of tentative they're excited and a tentative when they come up to talk to me and then they have you know 15 seconds of time to tell me something I'm really listening to them and they're hesitant about whether or not to share the good news about their life you know and I think it's often because when people share good news about their life people don't necessarily respond positively you know they don't get encouragement and people need so little encouragement it's just unbelievable and so there comes something good and I'm like ah that's so good you know somebody says well I'm getting along way better with my father I haven't seen him for 10 years and now we get along great and then the power of that you can't overstate the power of that for individuals to get their life together the individual is an unbelievably powerful force and every single person who gets their act together a little bit has the capacity to spread that around them it's it's a chain reaction and so it's a lovely thing to see and that's fantastic my observation of atheists would be they don't live like atheists they don't live as though they really believe they're just a cosmic accident and there's no purpose well you are most of them the best of them I have a lot of respect for the atheists generally because they've generally thought a lot more about this situation and and struggled with it more than the complacent fundamentalists you know who wallpaper over their doubts with with with over statements about their belief the atheists you know the word Isaac means or Israel the word Israel means he who struggles with God it's like well it's not obvious that it's not the atheists you know they're struggling away it's like they're obsessed with it even and so they have God more on their mind than the typical person who's a believer and so it it's interesting too because there's been this little community developed around my biblical lectures in particular of people who call themselves Christian atheists which I think it's quite remarkable so if I lay out the rationale for the Christian ethic which is something like pick up your damn cross and struggle uphill which is a really good message they think oh yeah well that makes a lot of sense it's like well I don't need the metaphysical baggage it's like well maybe you do and maybe you don't but even to pick up the the practical utility of that idea which is overwhelming that's it that's an excellent start so I was gonna follow on that then so it strikes me a lot of young people and I think this is enormous livia their credit and guys the heart I think of what you're saying they're told that all morality is relative they don't live that way they're actually looking for truth don't they well if you live that way everyone hates you you know but that's the creed that oh yes yes but that's a good example of how you who you are can be out of sync about with how you represent yourself it's like I was walking through the arc with I was walking through these ideas with the audience last night it's like well how do we treat each other when things work you know and how do you treat yourself well first of all you have to treat yourself like you matter because if you don't then you don't take care of yourself and you become vengeful and and and cruel and you you take you take it out on people around you and you're not a positive force none of that's good so you suffer more and so does everyone around you and there's a malevolence that enters into it none of that's good so that's what happens if you don't treat yourself like you matter and then what happens if you don't treat other people like they matter well you lie to them you cheat them you steal you you you enter into impulsive relationships with them they can't trust you that doesn't go anywhere they don't like you you you end up alone at best and maybe like incarcerated at worst like that doesn't work and so you watch the people around you who thrive regardless of what they say they act out the proposition that everyone matters and then you have a functional society and I think okay well if if if when you act out the proposition that everyone matters you have a functional society maybe that's evidence that that proposition is true it's like I think it's I think it's true I think the idea that the individual has a spark of divinity within him or her I think there isn't a more true way of saying that and if you act that out well this is goes back to the idea that you brought up about potential which is also something I've discussed with my audiences a lot it's like we don't act like we live in a material reality we act like we face a landscape of potential an external landscape of potential with an internal reservoir of potential that's how we act and then we call each other out on it we say things like well you're not living up to your potential and persons go so yeah well I know it's like well what do you mean by that what do you mean by that well you mean there's more to you than meets the eye even though it's not measurable right it's not tangible it's just possibility but everyone acts as that as though that's a reality and we all act as if we all act as if we make choices about what reality to bring into being we punish ourselves for our moral errors and and other people as well we act out this this ethic that puts us each at the center of being as active participants in the world that we want to bring forward everyone acts that way and if we don't then things go to hell instantly so it's like well what do we believe this is the argument I've had with people like Sam Harris the atheist types it's like yeah you think you're atheist now it's like you're Christian judeo-christian let's say to the court you just don't understand it you just don't realize it and it's understandable but it's not helpful this idea that you put forward of a spark of divinity in every human being surely lies at the heart of the miracle of Western freedom the idea that every individual has Worth and dignity and standing it's the idea that killed slavery slavery is a greatest human rights movement of all times so successful that it obliterated the idea that it was a right to keep slaves let alone changed the law it changed the way the world thought even though there are evil people who still keep slaves and and here's a rub it was plainly led by people of profound Christian faith there's no other way of putting it off anyone who honestly honestly and truthfully looks at the history of that period can't get away from it yeah but because it doesn't suit the modern left's narrative it's airbrushed out doesn't that inner self say something profound about our willingness to try and distort truth it's a suit our objective c what what what it what it speaks of you know it's it's it's hard it's like the the whitewashing of what happened in the in the in the Soviet states now in the communist states in the 20th century I mean anybody who goes through that literature with any degree of care comes away traumatized right shell-shocked it's just it's it's it's everything the Nazis did on a larger scale it's horrifying and yet I see with my students you know 60 million people who dared to disagree died minimum it was in their own culture mm-hmm it was something in their own society don't know in the Soviet Union the estimates range from twenty to sixty million and in Mao's China the estimates are as much as a hundred million there are kids taught this in school in universities why not very I see their societies they this before preface something the modern fight in it seems to me in many ways is between what might be called freedom and fear damper fairness yeah and equality the quality sounds terrific yep but we've actually seen what happens in societies where they set a quality up as the ultimate goal they became terrible place what doesn't that happen I think this is it sounds good yeah well that's I think that's also part of the the whitewashing is we can't understand how one of our primary moral intuitions which might be fairness let's say can transform itself into something so utterly murderous when it's played out on a large political stage and I think because we don't understand that I mean look there's reasons to be on the left there are temperamental reasons first so a lot of your political preference is influenced let's say by your temperament and a lot of your temperament is influenced by biological factors so there are temperamental reasons to be on the left people who are on the left end to be higher in creativity and lower in conscientiousness for example those are the two best predictors but there's also practical reasons to be on the left and one of the practical reasons are that human societies which tend to be hierarchical like all animal societies or almost all animal societies produce inequality as they go about their business and inequality is actually quite painful no one likes it nobody no rich capitalist walks down a busy urban street and sees a starving homeless person who's clearly mentally ill suffering madly and thinks that evening that inequality is okay no one thinks that no one's for poverty right and so we have this moral intuition that would be better if the downtrodden were lifted up and it's difficult to discriminate between that and an equality narrative and so I think part of the reason that we can't face the the lesson of the 20th century is because it's the left that mostly has to face the lesson and they don't know how to reconcile their deep intuitions about the injustice of inequality with the fact that when you put that doctrine in at work into into operation as a political tool you instantly stack up millions of corpses we don't know what to do with that and so we just avoid it and that's well and then of course we risk replicating it which is not good that's not a good tactical move well that's the problem if we don't learn from history we're destined to repeat it I entirely accept and some Australians might be surprised by this they say no I can't understand a lefties perspective I think I can I can understand the nobility of wanting to ensure that everyone is respected as a full member of the handover the human family of our culture and our society but this is where it gets so tricky and it's where I think many young people are starting to wake up they're being sold a pup do you have that expression in Canada no that's all the pup no it's all the DAAD mm-hmm see yeah there's no sound idea right that many of the things that sound attractive don't necessarily work so perhaps we need to be arguing the case for freedom and fairness which will the produce at least a high degree of equality of opportunity rather than arguing for equality which history tells us tends to severely erode freedom yeah well it's it's a harder sale though because but it's it's easy to appeal to compassion immediately thoughtlessly right and there and since that's such an instantaneously positive moral virtue and you don't need sophisticated argumentation to buttress it it's a lot more difficult to make a cold and a little case that the the proposition freedom first let's say freedom and responsibility first lifts the bottom up better it's a cold argument and it requires rationality to parse through so it's a harder sale I would argue though it's not just rationality its history if you bring rationality and honesty to the study of history I think I think the the case is actually quite compelling I think it is too fact I think it's open and sharp I think it's it's well there's a book that I've just been reading that I would recommend by a man named Walter shy Dell and he wrote a book called the great leveler which I really like it's an empirical analysis of inequality and he had his research questions were something like well what what is the phenomena of inequality - what can you attribute it and what if anything can we do to ameliorate it okay so the first answer is something akin to what I wrote in the first rule in my book twelve rules for life which is well you can't lay hierarchy and inequality at the feet of Western civilization or capitalism we're done with that argument that's wrong animal societies are hierarchical and they produce unequal distributions and yet there's evidence for that in the biological realm going back a third of a billion years and that's happened for so long that your nervous system has primarily adapted to it so it's a deep reality and blaming it on capitalism it's like no inequality is a big problem it's way worse than March thought okay fine and people tend to stack up is zero that's a bad thing because it destabilizes your society have to have people who are so far down in the underclass that they have nothing to lose by flipping the game that's a bad idea and it drives male-on-male homicide as well and that social science evidence for that is clear alright so we want to ameliorate inequality to some degree because we don't want people to stack up at zero and destabilize the society and we don't want young men in particular to become violent fine so then shy Dale takes another tack it's like hit his observations he looked at Neolithic grave sites for signs of inequality and you see what people are buried with and in one of his cases there's 200 people in a grave and one of them has a hundred and ninety pounds of gold and the next richest person has like four ounces of gold and then everyone else has none it's like so even in these Neolithic societies inequality was the rule hunter-gatherer societies are the same way except the inequality isn't material because they don't have a surplus inequalities everywhere okay so then she'll asks two other questions one is well how has it generally been reduced pestilence and war that's it so you can reduce inequality if you demolish everything because that just brings everyone down to zero but the inequality is less and then he does an empirical analysis and asks a very interesting practical question which is imagine that you totted up the inequality coefficients of the right-wing societies and you did the same with the left-wing societies is there a difference between the inequality coefficients and you'd hope yes because you'd hope that what would happen as a consequence of activity on the left would be that something would actually occur to ameliorate inequality you found no evidence for that whatsoever so the left is sensitive to the catastrophe of inequality let's say but their compassion oriented doctrines designed to ameliorate that on the positive side there's plenty of resentment on the left to that and I don't want to sweep that under the under the rug their compassion oriented policies do not produce an provement in in the equal distribution of goods so it's a way bigger problem than we think so so and and putting into place these these thoughtless compassionate doctrines let's say putting them in place again it's just gonna produce exactly the same outcomes that were produced all through the 20th century we must learn are going to bring the wisdom of the past back to the table of today if we're to find our way out of the malaise it's affecting the West I think to a better place but before we do that yeah explore that line of thinking let's go back to freedom all of the great sages down through the age I think you make that point in this fascinating book of yours a Bleakley at least and particularly though the founder of Christianity I think would would say to a person that your personal freedom is the thing you need to get right and sorted first it's one by one and I'm thinking of young Australians so I feel so passionately about that as I say this you know it's very easy not to be free very easy addiction fear anxiety depression all the things lack of discipline lack of discipline of your whims let's go back to a society which set equality as its goal soviet russia and in the pursuit of that equality killed 60 or 70 million that's the estimate of those who disagreed who had a different view who lost their freedom that of those who even announced their own suffering because in the soviet union if you dared to say that things weren't going so well for you then you were instantly a political you were you were political criminal for announcing your own suffering because the utopian already arrived you understand yeah and so if you were still suffering well obviously there was something wrong with you that's in the society like that well your own suffering becomes criminal Amit well exactly yeah but let's come to Alexander Solzhenitsyn we know a lot about what happened because of him he became an incredible global figure when I was a young man and I read his book The Gulag Archipelago here is this man he describes the horrors of being a political prisoner because he disagrees he converted he was originally a supporter of communism he came to see how evil it was and how oppressive it was he was imprisoned for having a different view to the state ordained insistence that everything was terrific huh and he writes unbelievably that lying on his prison bunk one day listening to the guards beat up a fellow prisoner the screams and the yells he found freedom when he realized the dividing line between good and evil in fact didn't lie between captor and captive in fact the jailers were captive to to a system to a blind ideology to an inability to trust ease so they were perpetrating the very system that imprisoned them not between Catholic and Baptist erode not between woman and man not between black and white but the dividing line between evil actually lies somewhere across every human heart plainly you believe it's incredibly important that we understand that comes back to what you said I think when it's framed we understand it well everyone knows that everyone knows if they think because all they have to do is think about their own transgressions I mean if you ask someone to sit for five minutes and think okay well what mistakes have you made in your life it's like that'll come up pretty quickly and you can even ask people what terrible unforgivable mistakes have you made in your life to like know about those two it's like it's no one's no one's so naive you know unless unless they've really wrestled intensely against themselves there's virtually no one so naive to not be able to answer those questions so we know that we've done things we shouldn't have done and we know that we're not living up to our potential I mean but are we doing their children a massive disservice by trying to imply that there's nothing wrong with them though you need for guilt no need for shame no need to come it's really all this because the problems the environment the problem is that you've just got a fixed society fixing institutions well and then now we all that will disappear psychologists have been not all psychologists obviously but the psychological profession is its neck-deep in this in this pathology has been beating the self-esteem drum for 50 years oh no you're okay you should feel good about yourself like you're fine the way you are it's like you think well that's a calming message for people it's like no it's not it's not at all and I watch my audience this is like it's full of people in the audience who think I'm suffering a lot more than I think is tenable a whole bunch of it's my fault my life is not in the order it should be I know I'm doing 50 things wrong it's like what the hell's wrong with me what's wrong with the people around me this is really serious and some you know well-meaning person comes up and says oh you're okay just the way you are it's like no one wants that message it's like no I'm not okay the way I am I'm not okay at all the way I am I know that and so you know when I'm when I'm speaking to to when I'm speaking now I say to people oh you're nowhere near what you could be that's that that's the positive message it's like yeah you're a mess but you don't have to stay that way as you're a mess you know it obviously you're suffering away like like so much you can barely tolerate it it's like that's okay you can do something about it so yeah that's the thing that that turns the lights on it's like you do something about it so they're in a freezing prison cell and the most appalling circumstances half-staff to death he finds freedom huh in himself he finds something positive and something to live for by first coming to grips with evil and understanding what it is well the conundrum in then he said to like and he underwent the Christian process of Metanoia which is to go over your it's it's it's confession essentially and repentance wasn't mediated by a religious structure in Solzhenitsyn's case but it was exactly the same process and he knew that perfectly well I'm not making this up he said when he was in the prisons and decided that he was at least in part to blame for his own imprisonment and the imprisonment of everyone around him that that was his fault or at least his restore both his fault and his responsibility that he was going to take that on he said the first thing he did was he went over his life with a fine-tooth comb in memory and his goal was okay I'm gonna remember everything I did when in my life up to now where I did something that I to be wrong and not because of some external Authority defining it as wrong but in relationship to his own conscience right and then he was going to determine if there was some way that could be rectified now to atone for it right - to become at one with it again and so that was part of the process he undertook and the concluding consequence of that was that he wrote the Gulag Archipelago which is a absolutely overwhelming piece that blew the intellectual slats out of the foundation of communism permanently right once soldier but until now we say to be trying to gloss over academia seems to be full of people who want a soft pedal right now and reinstitute this naive view that if we just create the right institutions everybody will behave rationally we'll all be equal everything will be okay they want to enforce it yeah won't say that but that's what they want to do they want to enforce it yeah well I think it's easy and it's only a few short decades since all of that happened yeah well are we mad well we're characterized by inertia and ignorance it's not easy to it's not easy to understand history it's especially not if you read it properly you know you read I had a client at one point who was an unbelievably naive person you cannot overestimate her naivety no matter how hard you tried her parents taught her that adults were angels literally and she believed that in in a strange sense when I met her she was in her 20s and and and she had this extraordinarily naive view of people and had been hurt and if you're very naive and you've been hurt by someone you often disintegrate because it blows your world apart that's what it's happened to her and I said she had a university degree and I said well look like I'm in the liberal arts I said didn't you read any history and she said well yeah I said well did like didn't that disturb the whole adults er Angels hypothesis and she said well I read it but I just compartmentalized it and that gave me the key to what was wrong with her and we successfully dealt with it but I had her to begin her have cure oddly enough because she had to understand malevolence because she had been touched by it right she had to understand him because her naive worldview had been shattered by the hand of malevolence I had to read a book called ordinary men by Browning and it's a study of these Polish policemen German policemen who were sent to Poland after the Nazis had marched through Poland and they were sent to police Poland and they were you know decent middle class guys essentially most of whom had been hit maturity before Hitler had come to power so they weren't indoctrinated Nazis you know not like the Nazi youth types were and they had to go to Poland and and be policemen under wartime conditions and they had a very humane commander and he told all of them that they were going to have to do things that would be far more brutal in all likelihood than they were normally prepared to do in their in their Seville in the role as non-military policeman but that they could go back to their old job if they wanted to so was it top-down enforcement of an authoritarian ethos and browning documents their transformation from the guy next door you know the policeman next door into people who were taking naked pregnant women out into fields and shooting them in the back of the head and it's a brutal book because while these men it's like it just ruined them to do that to themselves they were physically ill during the process of transformation you know and and he does a very good job of documenting how an ordinary person transforms into a a Nazi murderer and I had to read that I said but don't you compartmentalize it this is about you right this isn't about someone else when you read history you think well that's about someone else it's like unless maybe you're a victim and you identify with the victims it's a very rare person who reads history and identifies with the perpetrators but unless you read history and identify with the perpetrators then you don't understand history at all and so who wants to understand that and I get my students I said look I've told them this for 30 years here's something you have to understand if you were in Nazi Germany the statistical probability is overwhelming that you would have been a perpetrator you think you would have rescued Anne Frank it's like think again those people are very very very very rare they put their lives on the line to do that they put their family's lives on the line to do that you think you're one of those people really it's like that all that means is that you know nothing you know nothing about yourself you know nothing about people you know nothing about politics or economics or history it's a harsh lesson the truth about Germany in the 1930s it was probably the most educated society of the world and seen at that point in time education alone cleverness in inverted commas alone intelligence alone are no social right right right so absolutely there's no substitute for character so we don't wonder you know this is its Pascal called about the called talked of the glory and the scum to reach our full humanity it seems to me we need to understand both intention I'll call you the unbelievable scum that lies in terms of our potential at the bottom of every heart the extraordinary nobility you call at the spark of divinity I would say made in the image of an eye of a mighty creator you've got to hold those things in suspension if you're if you defined your real humanity and in fact you way through other good places surely through the valley of darkness in the first place that's you think well if it's possible to be enlightened why isn't everyone enlightened it's like well you you don't get to paradise you don't get to heaven without harrowing hell first right and who's going to do that like that's a terrible thing to do it isn't even clear that you can survive it no I mean it's it's it's brutally damaging to come to terms with your own proclivity for malevolence and so people don't do it and it's no wonder but but the funny thing is and this is also something that I think that people have been watching my lectures have been attracted by especially the young men it's like until you know your until you understand that you're a month until perhaps you even developed that as a capacity you don't have the moral force to do good and so not only is that dissent to begin with is necessary to scare you straight right to make you understand what exactly it is that you're dealing with but you don't even have the strength of character to be good until you understand just exactly what sort of monster you can be I have a rule in my book rule 5 do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them yeah rather it's a meditation on the monstrousness of parents it's like don't underestimate yourself your capability to room your children's lives you let them act in a manner that makes you disprove of them you will take revenge on them in ways you cannot even imagine and unless you understand that you're not going to be careful enough as a parent and you're not going to set proper boundaries don't let your children annoy you it's a very bad idea now you know that means that you should try to regulate your proclivity to be annoyed and you should try to be civilized and you should talk to your partner your wife or your husband about your over sensitivities and foolishness but having said that you need to know who the monster is and it's you so so if we're washing that wisdom out I don't want to sound calm down a tree here are more sympathetic and concerned for what's happening in our family homes and the environment in which our kids are being raised and you and I I mean you're very passionate in your concern for these people so we don't want anyone to think here we're trying to condemn them far the opposite just the opposite but if we're watching this out of the system what then happens to our kids when they hit institutions schools colleges universities well we're gonna find out because increasingly the elementary and the school systems that our kids are going through from say the age of five to the age of eighteen they're increasingly occupied by the postmodern neo-marxist ideologies I think we have to learn to identify what those are that's a start I mean there's buzzwords diversity inclusivity equity equity that's that's a no-go zone equity that's equality of outcome that's a preposterous murderous doctrine masquerading in in sheep's clothing white privilege systemic racism gender all of those none of those as individual topics are necessarily off the table you know if you can have an intelligent discussion about any of them except equity because that's just a no-go zone but to see those those those concepts emerge as a as a network of meaning you know that you're in the presence of this this pernicious postmodern neo Marxist doctrine that's fundamentally ideological at its core and people need to see that and they need to understand what that means and they need to stop it now how they're going to stop it they're going to make a million individual decisions about that but at least they could start by identifying it I've suggested to parents in in Canada in the u.s. that as soon as teachers talk to their children about diversity inclusivity and equity that they they suggest to their children that they leave the class because they're no longer in the educational realm there in the undock donation realm and people aren't taking that I wouldn't say they're not taking that seriously it's not an easy thing to figure out and it sounds very very radical to suggest you don't encouraging your children to leave the class but I think we're at that point wonder why universities are not offering high-quality courses in how freedom was secured by Western societies for its individual member people and how it might be secured and how you secured fairness from unfairness those sorts of things are not there hmm well some of it I think some of it has to do with what we've been speaking about is that to to to address the problem squarely it is actually quite daunting I mean the difficulties are manifold inequality is real individual malevolence is real to constrain it inside yourself is extraordinarily daunting to read history as a perpetrator is traumatizing these are hard things and then to think through the problems of addressing something like inequality instead of reacting to it in a knee-jerk compassionate manner in a and and implement policies on that basis that are going to be counterproductive that's also extraordinarily difficult so there's difficulty as part of it and then I would also say well we haven't talked about the resentment that drives the discussion of inequality it's not all it's not like everyone on the Left is overwhelmed by compassion and that's why all these brutal things tend to happen it's that they're also overwhelmed by the same sort of jealousy that Cain had for Abel and the same sort of murderous impulses that emerge very rapidly as a consequence of that jealousy he has more than me he must be a perpetrator it's morally obligatory for me to take him out that's an easy message to sell I read about how the Communists deep deep hula-hula caused the Russian countryside so imagine imagine it's Russia you're in a village it's 30 years something like that after the serfs have been emancipated there's a few agriculturalists who've managed to produce successful agricultural enterprises and you know maybe they have a couple of cows they have some land they're able to hire a few people and they're raising almost all the food right and so and they're a minority in any village because the hyper productive successful are always a minority so they're minority in every village all right and so and and there's people who are doing worse and then there's a lot of people who aren't doing so well at all and then the communist intellectuals show up and they tell the people who aren't doing so well some of whom are just suffering because of life but some of whom aren't doing well because they've never done anything productive with even a second of their life and the communist intellectuals come in and say you know those guys that are doing so much better than you yeah they actually stole all of that from you and you're morally obligated to go take it back it's like oh man you know after after six cups of Mead let's say or let's say ten or let's say 20 and I'm drunk out of my mind and I've got my crew buddies with me and we're all resentful right to the core because we've wasted our miserable lives and now we have an opportunity to go like down the street to our wealthy neighbor's house and to rape his daughter and we can do it in the name of good it's like well there's a story you can mark it and that happened everywhere in the Soviet Union and so they wiped out the kulaks it's like great and then six million Ukrainians starve to death that's right brilliant I'm a farmer the Ukraine was the breadbasket of Europe that's what it was then it became a region pathetically unable to feed itself and yet the same sort of worldview that gave rise to that we're now being told you use the word neo-marxist many people in Australia use the word cultural Marxist I've got an old friend who said to me what are you talking about John you know free capitalist Australia's not going to let that happen here well quite as Airlines took a nice step towards that the other day and they adopted their language policing policies these corporate these corporations who should know far better let these far left fifth columns into their organizations they think they're not going to pay for that I think they're gonna stop with some demands for the reconstruction of language not like the demands for reconstruction of language by the way are trivial they're maybe the most important thing you could possibly demand right I want to reshape the way you speak I want to reshape the way you think like well that's ok as long as it doesn't interfere with the bottom line it's like it'll interfere with the bottom line you let that fifth call them in it's a warning to corporate people you let that fifth call them in man you're gonna regret it you're gonna regret it so and things can turn on a dime you know a very well-organized minority even if the majority opposes them and they do a very well-organized minority can have an unbelievably pernicious effect on organisation Margaret Meads made that point societies change directions when a small group of people decide to change its direction that that's the way history works it's come back this issue of the redefining of language it seems to me that there are two things that people who want to reshape society in brutal ways do the first is they start the silence good debate either silence it or shut it down whatever second thing they do is they redefine language so it's very hard to have a debate so diversity actually I mean there's no other way to put it in this country it's rapidly coming to mean a stifling conformity you dare not deviate from the line and you see it with a whole lot of other words that are bandied around a quality being one of them yeah because it's confused equality of opportunity is confused with equality of outcomes well the initial wedge was equality of opportunity and then that flew and and so well no no its equality of outcome that's equity and that's I cannot believe how rapidly that idea which is the ultimate and terrible ideas I can't believe how rapidly that spread and how little people criticize it well that's because it too uninformed analysis it sounds good if you're feeling carelessly compassionate because you got back to the Ukrainian example in destroying the leading-edge farmers you actually guaranteed misery for everyone Oh people were selling human body parts in the Ukraine for food you know it was if you were a mother and your children were starving and you went out into the fields after they were harvested and you picked up individual pieces of grain that the harvesters had left and you didn't turn them over to the state that was a capital offense right that's that was and the the funny thing is that that was in the glory days of the Russian Revolution right that wasn't in the like 1950s that wasn't in the nineteen thirties even that was in the 1920s that was right when this started and I think it was I think it was Malcolm Muggeridge who was reporting on that for for a UK newspaper whose name escapes me at the moment he was pointing all of this out you know and no one paid attention no one paid attention towards the end of his life he warned that the West is in danger of eating itself out from within and I wonder whether in fact he wasn't being very appreciate and you and I want to stop that happening for the sake of our young people for the sake of everyone we went down that pathway already we've seen need to do it he fired it that thing's history should be like science in the sense that it ought to be objective it ought to be told truthfully it ought not to be used to secure some dominant groups preferred version of society well this is also white see what I've been trying to do about this because I've thought this through a long time ago well I don't want to I think the group identity game ends in blood doesn't matter who plays it left wingers play a blood right wingers play it blood and lots of it not just a little bit you can't play the identity politics game well so what do you do instead you you live the mythologically heroic life as an individual that's the right place to work and that's the message of the West is that we figured that out we figured out that the collective identity was not the pinnacle statement that the individual not the collective identities have no value obviously family has value and and and and your organization's have value all of that that's not the issue the issue is what's the paramount value what's the metric by which people should be measured and the answer is they should be measured as individuals as if they have a divine soul there should be measured in that manner but it can't be a selfish thing that is to say if I recognize I have Worth and dignity I'm obliged to recognize it so to you I think you can't recognize that you have intrinsic worth and dignity without also doing without also recognizing in others and and vice versa I don't that I can recognize the worth of another person without without stumbling on to the idea that I also have to recognize that for myself when did you think well everyone would want that but what people don't because you're also charged with the responsibility of your own care as if you matter well that's a big responsibility like it's a lot easier to assume that everything is pointless I mean that's painful in all of that but well you don't bear any responsibility and no one lives that way no no well not for long not for long well if not for long exactly but you know and Voltaire's biographer wasn't actually Voltaire himself it was a lady who read he's one of the many of her biographies of him in the 1930s came up with that adage summarizing his views that I may disagree with you but I'll defend to the death your right to say it there's a couple of things implicit in that that seem to be important so I may disagree with you but you have dignity and standing and Worth and a right to put your view that's the first thing I'm respecting the other person oh you should crave it yeah and the second thing it implies is it's the idea on the table that's important for two reasons one is we need to have a debate about that not a tacher person who put it there show some respect for the second thing is it's only by honest debate that you find the best way forward that's that's the thing that then that ties back to the discussion we had about the purpose of memory and the purpose of historical education it's like look there's a another rule in my book which is rule 9 assume that the person that you're listening to knows something you don't well they do the person you're listening to knows some things you don't you can be sure of that now whether or not you can get to them is a different matter but if you do get to them it's a real deal for you that's why you want to listen to the other person's arguments is because you're not everything you could be you don't know the pathway forward with as much clarity as you could and it's possible this is one of the wonderful things that I've had the privilege of experiencing as a clinician you know because people it's like I live inside a Dostoyevsky novel as a clinician people come in and they tell me about their lives and I listen to them and they tell me things that are just absolutely beyond belief you know and I learn from my clients constantly they're they're telling me honestly about their experience they tell me things they wouldn't tell anyone else because I actually listen to them but part of the reason I listen is because I'm desperate to listen it's like there's a possibility I'm gonna do something stupid in the next five years it's gonna be like fatal and there's some small possibility that if we have a decent discussion that you'll tell me something that will eliminate some of my blindness so that I don't have to fall into that particular pit and if you have a good sensitivity for the depth of the pit then you know you're pretty bloody motivated to avoid it and so and that and and that and that dialogue is it's it's dialogic it's dial logos right it's shared logos it's the way that we redeem ourselves mutually moving forward and it all depends on having the facts on the time what's best you're able to establish them not distortions affect not what you wish would be the case at least your best approximation of what you think to be true and know what you wish for no one because the new version of this seems to be if I disagree with what you say I'll paint it as hate speech or challenging to my notions of diversity and inclusiveness and I'll fight to the death your right to even have your say well that's where hate speech laws are so pernicious it's like and that needs to be taken apart first question is there such a thing as hate speech yes obviously people say terrible things reprehensible things quasi-criminal things even all the time brutal and some of them caused a lot of trouble so the idea that there's hateful speech it's like yeah ok that's self-evident no problem well let's regulate it ok fair enough because it's hateful you know maybe we rather that there wasn't any of it ok no problem who defines hate well we'll worry about that later it's like no he won't that's actually the problem here's the answer to who defines hate those people that you at least want to have define it that would be the inevitable consequence of the legislation because sensible people won't have anything to do with that like people who are power mad will gravitate to that domain to make an ethical case to exercise their controlling power over the language of other people no and I've had journalists say well what makes you think that your right to free speech Trump's the right of someone to not be offended and I think that's really the level of our political discourse ok so we'll run a little thought experiment so I'm talking to one person I'm talking to you and the rule is I don't get to offend you ok maybe we can still have a discussion about something difficult but let's say I'm talking to ten people and about an important thing now I have to make sure that I don't say anything to fight despite the fact that this is an important and contentious issue that I don't say anything that offends even one of those 10 people ok maybe I can even manage that what if I'm talking to a thousand people there's going to be someone in that thousand people there's gonna be someone who's offended at the mere fact that I exist so it an impossible standard it's like well you can't say anything offensive okay fine then you can't say anything okay so what you don't get to say anything because no one should be offended well then you don't get to think well what happens if you don't think well then you can't negotiate your way through the future and you fall into a pit and so does everyone else so that's where that all ends up you can't say offensive things equals you cannot negotiate your way properly through the future equals everyone suffers that's a bad that's a bad strategy so and it's and it's all covered up with well you know it'd be better if no one was ever offended who thinks that you know how naive you have to be to think that now you have to be pathologically naive which is the kind of naive that you could have grown out of but you willfully refused to because you weren't willing to see what was in front of your face and then you impose that blind naivety on everyone else because you don't want to allow them to upset your like rosy view your rosy view of yourself in the world there's it's just there's no end to how terrible that is one of our very astute writers recently made the comment that freedom of speech is the most important freedom because it's the freedom by which we defend all about other freedoms it strikes me that freedom of speech though is most important not for the powerful or for the elite it's actually for the minority groups a free society surely is one that allows those who swim against the tide and have a different perspective the right to do so without fear of mob or state sanction I you've had some personally well I gave a talk and the University of British Columbia about a year ago on it was called a left-wing case for freedom of speech it's like it's really easy to make a left-wing case for freedom of speech it's like well that's how it exists have the opportunity to make their suffering known right yeah clearly I mean it's it's the fact that that argument even has to be made shows you how pathological the radical left has become because it's clearly the case that freedom of speech is not generally in the interests of the power elite right because they already have access to to what they need to maintain their grip on the world let's say if you look at yes in that manner it's the people at the bottom of the hierarchy whose right to expression needs to be protected yeah if you're in control of the debate you don't need freedom of speech right right obviously so it's always useful for the dispossessed of freedom of speech issue and then the other issue that you wrote that the writer that you described wrote wrote brought to the forefront is the idea of the hierarchy of rights now in our in our conception of rights in Canada we're not willing to assume that any right has priority over any other right now that doesn't work out because when the two rights come into conflict with one another which they do you have to adjudicate their relative status and what's happened in Canada is that equality rights keep trumping everything else and that's not good it's actually a good reason why you shouldn't have a Bill of Rights and we never should have had one in my estimation but whatever the freedom of speech you say well speech is the the right to freedom of speech is central because it's the right by which you defend all the other rights well that's why the idea of logos in the West is the most sacred concept right that because oh Christ do you think about this psychologically as Christ is though is the ideal of perfection now this is independent of any religious discussion or any historical accuracy doesn't matter we're looking at this from the perspective of the analysis of a myth or a story what Christ represents is the perfect individual whatever that is now you discuss endlessly what that is but one of the things the West is settled on is the idea well that is that the perfect individual utters the truthful speech that makes potential into habitable order does that through truth and that's embedded in the first few sentences in in Genesis for example when when when when God brings the world into being so and and the idea that truthful speech that brings the world into being from formless potential also characterizes each person that's our form our fabrication in the image of God that's the idea of the West it's a unbelievably remarkable idea that perfection individual perfection is to be found in a relationship with spoken truth God that's that's the great idea well it's out of that arises the observation that there's no there's nothing more central to the hierarchy of rights and obligations as well let's say then freedom of speech yes it's absolutely central that's why Christ is the word made flesh the idea is that the perfect individual is the person who's well who speaks truth but also acts out the truth of those words it's very it's a it's a proposition whose merit is virtually self-evident when you understand it in that manner so yeah people to see assaults on freedom of speech especially compelled speech well that's where I drew the line in in my life it was like purpose well held speech legislation in Canada perhaps that's why the left is so determined in this country to get Christianity out of the classroom but don't tell us something of the chilling there's no doubt that's why they're determined I mean people like Derrida I mean he called the west FAL loco centric right male-dominated logos centric it's like that is the West it's a logo centric well if you want to take the West down you remove the idea of the Divine Word from the substructure of the society so you have to do that it's like and this is the level at which this war is being fought it's fundamentally a theological war interesting it is famous Waterloo lectures blaze Patt the inaugural Blaise Pascal lecture in 1978 Malcolm Muggeridge said the West was in danger of eating itself out from within and he spoke at great length about this attempt to about how the the West was abandoned in Christianity and it had become a very empty and soulless and financially bankrupt place as a result but it wouldn't be the end he said despite the attempts to kill it in places like communist China and Russia there will always be people who will fight through to the truth of course we can see now three decades on whatever that he was absolutely right closer to four decades on he was right well you know that Christianity is spreading faster in communist China than it did in Rome during its most rapid period of expansion in terms of proportion of people transform it so Christianity is spreading incredibly quickly in China which is X would have guessed that right I mean that's that's that just makes you makes you shake your head tell us a little more about your chilling experience I mean Canada and Australia culturally in many ways very like if it can happen in Canada presumably it's coming here oh it's how it's going to happen here I think it's absolutely inevitable it's not that big a move from where you're already at and the fact that well the Qantas airline thing is a really good example the fact that these things are happening and that corporations aren't standing up in outrage against the introduction of ideas like equity it's like you guys are all primed for this why not compelled speech especially if it's done for the best of all possible reasons I was accused of denying the identities of the oppressed it's like well for to me that wasn't the issue at all the issue was no look I'm not an advocate of hate speech laws for the reasons I already describes like who's gonna define hate not the people you want to define it for sure that's what's going to happen that's bad enough but then to say well I have to use the language of my detestable radical leftists leftist foes let's say that's not happening yeah so that's what I said so you've got videos some of the most wonderful Australians on our corporate leaders and you know they're generous philanthropic they thoughtful they're contributors in the public debate but I'd have to say far too many of them seem I'll use the expression Pig ignorant of the reality they're out there playing with fire they're playing with cultural forces that will destroy the very activities that they would hold up central to our wealth and prosperity those cultural forces are playing with them well it's a yes oh yes so there's astute people can't realize don't see they're being toyed with they're being toyed with with with with demonic forces in a sense and again I mean that in a psychological sense Carl Jung said people don't have ideas ideas have people it's like you think about that for about five years you know like that if you take the typical student radical out of their demonstration and you have a chat with them one on one you find out that you know they're the daughter of the guy down the street that you wave to you know while she was growing up and that eighty percent of her is sensible person you know and ten percent is resentful and ten percent is ideologically possessed partly because of the machination of her idiot professors and so she's okay but if you get ten of her together and each of them are ten percent possessed then you have the whole devil in the room right and that thing has a will it has a historical will and you better not be thinking you're running the show especially if you're ignorant of the process and the corporate types who are letting the radical left Fifth Column into their midst and mostly through their human resources their human resources departments which should probably just be shut down they have no idea what they're messing with they should know watch what happens to Google I have to say I've been pretty stunned by two or three of the senior chairmen in this country who have said to me or said two friends of mine in the context of recent politically correct debates here that they've been startled themselves by what their companies underneath of them have said hmm which raises some interesting questions about their need to get up to speed they're not startled enough hmm so I've seen many people have sent me this sorts of training programs that the diversity consultants are foisting on the corporate world I mean it's it's it's as if a woman Studies program has been placed in the midst of the corporate environment it's the it's not only it's not only the the academic left let's say made made manifest in a PowerPoint presentation it's the worst elements of the activist McClendon the most appalling parts of the university are making themselves manifest in the corporate world at an amazing rate yeah and the corporations are guilty partly because well partly because of inequality I would say they're guilty and they want a wallpaper over their bad conscience with with some hand waving to to the Equality pushers it's like well play with that at your peril so it's a very bad idea diversity inclusivity equity that's a bad game if you're going to be burned if you play it and in ways you can't imagine so goo radio ready freedom fairness respectful debate a lot further that's right responsibility let's circle back to young people because the future is going to belong to them before we know it remarkable and very insightful and engaging human being Jonathan Hite is perhaps a leading example of somebody who's seen from a left perspective himself how dangerous all of this is and how were endangering young people by not being honest with them not encouraging them to to explore what they instinctively feel needs to be explored going back to our earlier topic and when leaving them without the resilience that they're going to need to confirm if you like a free and prosperous society and I had a question here relating to this which I just like to read in his piece the coddling of the American mind Jonathan Hite outlines why Millennials today are so fragile and lacking resilience in life and in relationships in university courses in the workplace and what has led to this overwhelming push to be protected from anything difficult or uncomfortable or offensive and he calls it the flight to safety and I think you've used that expression he outlines the core reason for this fragility of mind and emotion he says it stems first from over functioning and overprotective parents then schools now reaches into our universities and of course more people than ever go to universities in the West so they form a much bigger bulk in our community afterwards and it leaves them tragically unprepared and unarmed for life and relationships would you comment on well I think it's good to take a step back from that and think about it in the broadest possible terms there is definitely an epidemic of overprotective parenting but it's useful to ask why and my suspicions are is that this is driven by very fundamental biological and cultural phenomena that aren't generally considered in relationship to this issue we don't have very many children we don't have 12 you know six of whom die we have one or two and that makes them very precious right we're unwilling to take risks with them and no wonder and then we also have them much later in life and so like if you have a kid when you're 18 you're still a kid you know you're gonna go out and have your life right because you're so well you're in the in the height of your exploratory you're in the height of the exploratory part of your life you're not gonna over protect your kid because you're still a kid but if you're 40 and you have one child it's like all your eggs are in one basket and the probability that you're going to take undue risks with that precious person is very very low now obviously there's some advantages to that because great you would devote resources to your child you know and foster their development but the downside is that you have every motivation to hover and maybe you're also extraordinarily desperate as a mother to maintain that bond with your child because you've struggled so long to achieve it it's highly highly valuable you can't take a risk well so these so we might say well perhaps overprotective parenting is a secondary and unintended consequence of the birth control pill and the fact that now have children later in life could easily be no if you have six kids it's like what are gonna do hi helicopter parent them it's like no yeah you're so tired you can't even get off the couch if you have six kids and there they outnumber you right they're raising each other they're competing and they're taking each other down a peg they're not there's no overprotection there but with it with a single child landscape or dual child landscape mostly a single child landscape then you're gonna over protect and then that ethos starts to permeate the schools and it starts to permeate the higher education institutions as those children mature and then that all reinforces it not good it's not obvious what to do about it either because if it is driven by demographics in that in that sense it's a much more intractable problem than we think so I did some of that in 12 rules for life you know I said look you what you have to understand is that you're a danger to your children no matter what right you can let them go out in the world and be hurt or you can over protect them and hurt them that way so you here's your choice you can make your children competent and courageous or you can make them safe but you can't make them safe because life isn't safe so if you sacrifice their courage and competence on the altar of safety then you disarm them completely and all they can do is pray to be protected so in the very act we're trying to do the right thing by them although often with the selfish motive right often with her selfish motive we strip away the tools and the equipment the understanding they really need to make life work well that's the that's the eatable mother right that was for its great discovery of the dark mother and the dark mother is the person she's that witch in Hansel and Gretel gingerbread-house lost children too good to be true it's like a house of candy Wow who could want anything better what lives inside the house of candy the witch that wants to fatten you up and eat you right a cautionary tale about overprotective parents overprotective mothers about the overprotective feminine it's like they're psychoanalysts they were so smart said the good mother necessarily fails that's such a brilliant phrase it's like you can't as you as your child matures you have to fail more and more as a mother right until by the time you're 30 your child's 30 let's say 25 for that matter you're not their mother anymore I mean obviously you are but the relationship has hit something like quasi Perce status not entirely obviously but the child's independent able to stand up on their own two feet and take on the world so now we say this thing at the university student runs into some difficulties with study or whatever and brings their parents in to talk to the faculty yeah they go off in color I mean when I went to Queen's University a week ago and there was a lot of noise and and horror around that you know that the people who were decrying my visit set up coloring book stations so that people could be comforted because you know the evil professor was coming to talk it's like and you know as a clinician and hight knows this as well and all the clinicians worth their salt know this the worst thing you can do for someone who's anxious is over protect them it makes them worse the clinical literature on that is crystal clear what you do for people who are hyper anxious is gradually expose them with their voluntary consent to increasingly threatening situations that cures them it's exactly the opposite of what all the mental health professionals so and I use that term extraordinarily lightly are trying to do to produce safe spaces on the University campus like if our safe is if a space needs to be defined as safe you can be sure that's the one thing it is not Jordan this has been fascinating let me pay you a compliment in some ways I think the most valuable thing you can do for us is to model the courage to speak your mind you do it forcefully you do it courageously you do it compassionately because the reality is you only have to spend a bit of time with you to realize that you actually care especially about our young people and what they're experiencing and especially for our young men because no boys model themselves are men who they respect you're doing a great job of modeling courage in the face of farm well there's something I'd like to say maybe in closing about courage people say that to me and you know I don't think it's exactly right doesn't there's a line in the Old Testament the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and I think it's more like that it's not that I'm courageous it's that I'm afraid of the right things so when I made my videos it wasn't like that didn't make me nervous but I was less nervous about going back to bed and not saying what I had to say that I was about making the videos because I know where this is going I don't want to go there and so it's it's not so much courage it's that it's a matter of I it's it's it's less risky to say something than to remain silent when you know there's something to be said I know that to be the case and so lots of times in life it's like there's no pathway forward that's going to shield you from risk you get to pick this risk or you get to pick this risk and I think I picked the lesser risk and that might be wise but I'm not so sure it's courageous well I think it's admirable let's leave it on that basis all right thank you [Music] [Music]

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