I recently saw Jordan Peterson speak in Detroit. His talk was on Rule 6 - Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. This talk was an extended version of his YouTube video message to school shooters, past and present:
In his Detroit talk, he emphasized the choice of looking inward to save the world instead of looking outward. As he expanded on this idea, I began to realize that if you look outward, you also place blame outward. You begin to ascribe all the ills of the world to "others". But if you look inward will find that there is endless improvement to be made in your own life. You begin to realize that the problems of the world are all within your own soul, and that you have real work to do.
These realizations reflect my own journey through libertarianism and anarchism. The first thing that appealed to me about libertarianism was its stance against war. Then its stance against aggression (NAP). I waved signs. I "participated". I burned out. I became bitter. I became resentful. Nothing changed. I gave up. I spent years there, at the bottom.
I also ran from myself and my fears during this time. I became a "move into the woods" libertarian. The line of thought being, "I am good. The world is bad. I will remove myself from it and wait for it to fix itself. I will (not so) secretly hope for it to burn and will throw rocks whenever possible."
Peterson talks about "falling in love with your own ideas". His message applies to libertarians when he says the following:
If the world you are seeing is not the world you want, it's time to examine your values. It's time to rid yourself of your current presuppositions. It's time to let go.
Let go. Let go of being right while your life falls apart. Stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself if you are all you can be. If the answer is no, then you have work to do. And it's not the work of blaming the world for being imperfect.
The value structure that you inhabit determines what you perceive. It doesn't just determine what you expect or want. It bloody well determines what you SEE.
Do libertarians see a beautiful world of possibilities for the peace and prosperity they claim to seek? I rarely see it in their writings. I rarely hear it in their talks. I usually hear bitterness and hopelessness. Maybe their value structure need examining?
Being wrong gives you control to make things better. If you are right there is no way to make things better.
Humility is freedom. The freedom to grow. The freedom to improve. Libertarians too often seem to believe they know how society should be structured, and yet their own lives are a mess. Mine certainly was. And it still is. But I have begun the journey of making it better. And that journey has no end. I am now free to learn and to grow, without bounds. I do not know how the world should be structured, but I have begun to work on how my own life is structured. And that's a bigger undertaking than any political cause.
It's time to sacrifice who you are for who you could become.
Sacrifice is the precondition for transformation. Transformation of yourself. Transformation of your relationships. Transformation of the world around you. Instead of pontificating, consider what you need to give up. It starts with you. And it ends with you too. Stop pointing fingers.
The gateway to wisdom and the development of personality is directly through the portal that you do not want to go through.
Consider this when preparing to use the "against me" argument to alienate your next group of "worthless statists". What other behavior are you using to avoid understanding those you disagree with? To listening to them with honesty and sincerity? You'll find meaning and purpose in whatever you are running from. You just have to be strong enough to face it, instead of always trying to smother it or run from it.
It's by virtue of necessity that what you need is where you don't want to look, because that's where you've kept it.
What if there is truth in the existing structure of society? What if better understanding this structure is the path to improving it? What if ignoring the reality of how people around us interact has caused us to become so alienated that we can no longer function within the time and place that we occupy (HERE and NOW)? Would we be better off without our heads in the clouds?
Ask yourself, "What sacrifices do I have to make to make things better?"
Could refraining from NAP rants and deciding instead to listen strengthen your friendships? Could it result in becoming a person that your community respects, instead of avoids?
You have to sacrifice that which is most valuable to you currently which is stopping you. And God only knows what that is. It's certainly the worst of you. And God only knows to what degree you're in love with the worst of you.
Do you value your ideology so much, that you've stopped working, stopped living? Are you in love with your own ideas? I know I was. And the downward spiral from that way of thinking is nearly terminal.
If you're not moving forward in your life, there's a high probability that you have some idea or mode of action or habit that you're so in love with that you won't let go of it. Sometimes it's even something you love now.
Let go of building the perfect society. Begin building the perfect self. Begin building a somewhat passable self first. It's a lot harder than pontificating about the ideal geopolitical structure of the world. It's also a lot more rewarding. Your friends, family, and community need you and need your ideas. But they need you to be a high functioning member of society who is an exemplar of excellence first. They will gravitate to you and ask for your advice as you become an excellent human. No pontification needed.
The world needs you to be your best self.
Self-improvement is the only path to peace.