Here’s the dilemma.
The education/information business is an overwhelmingly noisy market place. How can a humble writer with a calling hope to be heard? Is there a way to cut through the cluttered field of competitors out merely to make a big name and bigger buck?
The dark-side method to media madness is that mind-numbing clutter shuts intelligence down. Technology has made it too easy for anyone with a political ax to grind – any agenda however nonsensical or vicious – to build a platform.
The protective, instructive voice of conscience, however, resides in stillness. If people don’t value and have the skills to cultivate peace of mind, they can’t hear conscience. They forfeit the ability to practice conscious discrimination in the original, pristine and positive meaning of the term. They’re rendered helpless, unable to know the difference between true and false messengers.
The logical balance to extreme complexity is to return to utmost simplicity. Scriptures advise, Be still and KNOW, I am God. Listen to the heart of hearts. Not noisy, needy emotions, mind you. But the silent unerring voice of Conscience. It never lies.
You can run. Hide. Deny it. Deceive yourself. But the heart of hearts . . if you have the courage and self-honesty to listen . . . really listen . . never lies. It can’t. It is at one with the truth. Always was. Always will be.
So this is a call to conscience. Listen with your heart. It will not fool you as to who is who, or what is what.
My immediate dilemma is this. I need to effectively persuade Jordan B. Peterson that I continue to extend cordial greetings him in good faith. That I am a messenger come to meet him half way in good will, offering hard-earned and extraordinarily useful information that completes (neither challenges, competes with nor diminishes) his admirable accomplishments.
That, from opposite sides a perceptual continuum, each us working to complete the same good work. That I persist in communicating because I am listening, without projecting or anticipating outcomes. Simply because it seems like the thing to do.
Naturally, he must be suspicious. And, being very busy, is a bit too quick to judge, assuming the usual worst. Surely his twitter account is inundated with off-the-wall comments.
After a recent post, Fresh Start, I tweeted to Dr. Peterson,“Young women are just as much at risk as young men!” together with the link.
Apparently he didn’t look at my post, but instead on September 27th posted to his account the link to a video I’d already seen, as if to refute a perceived criticism. The header: “More than half a million people have watched this clip: Every young woman needs to see this!”
The video speaks to the idealized mother-child relationship as foundational to civilization, one that is being undermined by demanding careers.
Had he taken my sentence in the context of the full paragraph, the motherhood vs. career issue wouldn’t have seemed the right response.
Here’s the sentence in context:
Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.
So I responded, “Yes, BUT . . .”
Among others, one woman commented: “. . you would have a bigger female following if you made more aimed at women.”
A masculine comment reads: “You’re a warrior Prof. An example for us all, keep fighting the good fight.”
My point: Dr. Peterson has tapped into a crying unanswered need. He speaks to it admirably, but only partially. Nor could more be expected of any one person.
I didn’t say there’s no discussion about women. Rather, that the perspective is intensely yang in presentation. From a young man’s point of view, the professor is “an example for us all” (meaning all young men?) of fighting the good fight. Great. We need that.
The woman’s comment, however, also carries weight. More attention to women’s needs would attract a larger female following. Just not from the same, intensely yang perspective, please. It’s not female bodies that are underrepresented so much as the calm, quiet state of mind which is receptive to inner knowing – an energy valence, if you will, which Asians call “yin.”
When I responded with “Yes, BUT . . ,” what I meant to say is that there’s more to women [and men] than the either/or choice between reproduction/family versus lucrative careers. There’s whole universes of other options to choose from, not just the extremes of virgin mothers versus snake-headed monsters. I can tell you this from personal experience, having traded all other opportunities and resources to put the books on the shelves for others that were missing when I dearly needed them.
As a woman, I’ve experienced first hand the consequences of being given equally false either/or choices. But the fact remains, no matter how punitively society dictates to the contrary, like some men, some women are truth seekers. Philosophers. Fascinated by history and alarmed at the course of current events. Who speaks to them? What are their options?
Sigh. I didn’t even bother to tweet out the last post, Be an Instrument of Light, even though I thought it one of my best.
My ordinary rational mind asks, Why bother? Why not focus on winning a lottery? Carry on with daily routines without the fuss and frustration of writing. The odds of a breakthrough are probably about the same, if not better.
But then that pesky inner voice (Dr. Peterson likens it to Pinocchio’s Cricket) answers me back. “Why bother? Because to survive what’s roaring down the pike at breakneck speed, young people, male and female alike, desperately need the complementary view which balances Dr. Peterson’s example, without which results (like the percentages of his following) would continue to be skewed.” (More on this later, in a separate post, Yes, AND . . )
For now, let me share the ongoing dilemma expressed from anther, earlier angle.
Bogus claims . . . remind me of the long-running TV game show, “To Tell the Truth.” In this format, three challengers are introduced to a celebrity panel, each claiming to be the featured guest. Impostors can lie and pretend to be the central character. Only the real one is sworn to tell the truth. Panelists are challenged to ask penetrating questions, see through deceptions, and correctly identify the truth teller.
In this game reality, the best liars are rewarded. But that’s not how it works in the real world. There’s nothing entertaining or ultimately rewarding about deceiving the public. Yet, at this stage of history, it’s nigh unto impossible for all but the most discriminating (in the positive sense) to tell the difference between imitators and the “real deal.” Shameless parodies of wisdom traditions abound.
Hucksters out to make a quick fortune while basking in their 15-minutes of fame misrepresent both their intentions and abilities. The sure-fire get-rich formula “spiritual” entrepreneurs use is to tap into people’s deepest desires and fears. Associate your product with an accepted wisdom tradition to piggy-back on its credibility. On the one hand, offer gullible marks whatever they want; on the other, guarantee protection from the consequences of stupidity.
In a crowded market place full of unscrupulous pretenders, how do messengers of substance and integrity stand out from the noisy crowd? Even screaming isn’t heard over the ruckus.
The only option is to play by the rules – quietly, persistently Tell the Truth.
“To Tell the Truth” is the longest-running show in history. It’s not a game, however, nor is it for the faint of heart and spirit. But human survival is at stake.
From another angle, I’m concerned that generosity to a fault puts our good warrior Prof at risk of distraction, if not burnout. I’m mindful of a Sufi saying that I’ve found useful as a standard for allocating positive attention:
Put another way, after a certain point, debating noisy protesters and exposing seemingly endless corruption is a bit like wading in quicksand. It’s not good for peace of mind. There are far more important things to do, more productive uses of precious time and attention.
Ah! Perhaps this is what you mean by refusing to play their game.