Dr. Jordan Peterson is absolutely correct on his views about freedom of speech and how we need to remain free to honestly think out loud. Not simply because we may want to, but because psychologically this is how we process life and living. We think, we talk, we interact, we dispute and debate and ponder and have our thoughts challenged externally and then hopefully internally as we continue onward in processing and attempting to make sense out of life and living. This is an integral process that is non-negotiable for our individual and collective well-being.
This is precisely why our forefathers encapsulated freedom of speech (and to assemble and to disseminate information via a free press) in the very first amendment of our U.S. Constitution, clearly establishing their recognition of this as a primary natural (inalienable) right extended to us from God (meaning extended from outside of mere human jurisdiction), essentially stating that no government should be tolerated to trespass against us in a manner that interrupts/disrupts our freedom to SPEAK and exchange ideas and associate with one another. They did not conjure up this notion out of their own baseless wishful thinking — they discovered this to be an incontrovertible Truth (as likely others who came before them had as well).
This is where we run into the concept of Objective Truth — that which (inescapably) constitutes the substratum for Reality. Meaning it is elemental, uncompromising, and thereby independent of any predilections or social constructionism convictions we might like to overlay and toy around with. All that we humans are capable of perceiving and experiencing rests upon a primordial foundation of such Objective Truths (however many there may prove to be); and consequently, all human endeavors rejecting this prerequisite understanding are destined to fall apart and turn wickedly insane (i.e. non-life-affirming for our species).
(Skeptics and naysayers obviously remain free to investigate such claims about renouncing Objective Truth/Reality and to discover the fruit borne as a result, as untold numbers of people already have and assuredly forever will — it being in our natures as human beings to relentlessly test boundaries.)
Whatever else may appear true down here on the ground among us squabbling humans remains more of a mystery and is partially determined through our clashes against one another and within ourselves, also partially uncovered as Life perpetually reveals itself and shows us the way (most often via demonstrations of what won’t/can’t work, what leads into dead-end abysses from which we can’t escape, what generates tremendous pain and misfortune with little or no subsequent benefit to humankind, etc.). Articulation of thoughts and ideas is an indispensable means through which we parse what we consider to be reality, disregarding what the conversation or argument in question at any given moment between us might be.
The reason we in the United States of America historically place so much emphasis on the First and Second Amendments of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights is precisely BECAUSE such incontrovertible Truths are necessary to accept if any nation is to remain functional (or, for that matter, if any group of people wish to remain intact anywhere at any point in time). Meaning it’s not a choice for us human beings. Rather, it’s a Fact of Life. We must remain free to speak and assemble and share information BECAUSE this is what it means to be human. Remove that capability and watch horrific chaos ensue. Such leads to finding out about ushering in hell on earth by way of distorting our understanding of Reality, disconnecting us from It as well as from one another, twisting our psychologies against our inborn Free Will and any alignment that may prove possible between ourselves and that which we call God.
One only has to look at fairly recent history to find numerous examples where humans’ ambitions led them to create hell on earth: a primary case being the totalitarian Soviet Union of the 20th century (as Dr. Peterson has brought to many of our attention). Also Mao’s China (heck, to an extent even China of today). These systems weren’t bad simply because they were communistic (as many harp on about); they were dangerous because they required control over people’s speech, thoughts, organizational pursuits and media in order to maintain and expand power. ANY SYSTEM that attempts to do the same, regardless of ideological underpinnings, will suffer a similar fate. Doesn’t matter if it purports to be capitalistic or socialistic or theologically-driven. Same difference.
The importance of our 2nd Amendment was to maintain power in the hands of ordinary PEOPLE so as to check our government if ever it turned tyrannical, specifically in regards to tampering with the 1st Amendment which all else in a civil society depends upon. Some like to pretend to not comprehend this concept or dismiss it as archaic and of little or no modern value, yet these people are fools who willfully abdicate their own power under the mistaken belief that those who do rise in the ranks within our System will sustain dedicated interest in the general well-being of the citizenry and upholding our Constitutionally-protected rights, despite repeated evidence to the contrary.
The willfully blind and ignorant seek to place newly-minted legal restrictions—effectively handicaps—on their fellow humans in an effort to bolster the power of the State that so many have grown thoroughly dependent on. This is by design a trap that we humans orchestrate against one another time and time again, learning only when it’s too late what it is we’ve sacrificed and what such folly truly served in the end. That points back to a character “defect” within us born out of fear of embracing personal responsibility — essentially a “failure to launch” in terms of actively engaging one’s own individuation process while struggling within the context of broadly collectivistic (and evermore complex) social dynamics, further complicated by witnessing (and feeling complicit in albeit rendered unable to effectively resist) modern experiments with empire-building and the emergence of globalized centralization projects.
Today so much is commonly framed in a LEGAL context, as if only that which is made lawful is of any real relevance in modern times. Laws are mere codification of that which is deemed customary and necessary in a functioning society. But where do the content of laws spring from? Some from exercises in dispute resolution and imparting justice, but others are not of our direct making, as discussed above. Higher Truths matter regardless of what any law might say. They exist beyond, and cannot be constrained by, any legal code devised by man. We are wise to take into consideration these Truths and to incorporate them into any system (legal or otherwise) we might wish to preserve as functional. Though, unfortunately, laws have a way of becoming jumbled in the minds of people over time, causing difficulty for us to discern between them in terms of status and inevitability. Over time, one law comes to be viewed as equal to any other law, meaning just as modifiable, overturnable and discardable. This is where we go wrong, and soon enough we’ll be shown why.
Turns into an unavoidable lesson on separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. It appears we humans are destined to contend with these vital lessons again and again and again, immemorially. Then, this goal is further frustrated by never quite figuring out how to impress the significance of these revelations on the minds of successive generations. So each generation winds up fated with facing the challenge of re-learning what was lost before.
Here we are yet again. Confronting this age-old problem once more, this time in the 21st century. Surrounded by dazzling technologies, connected to people from all over the world online, debating and discussing an infinite number of topics with one another, all while centralizing political and economic schemes unfold across the world in the backdrop. It’s a surreal time to be alive. Also troubling due to countless distractions and information overload accompanied by a deluge of sophisticated (and academically aggregated) thought exercises. A sea of theories and ideas swirl around us. Some better than others, but all requiring our mental energy to suss them out and to try to make sense of their potential relevance. So much is being taught to us, both by teachers and popular personalities broadcasted across societies. Is it any wonder that while living within such bustling, busy times we so often lose track of what’s fundamental?
All comes to appear as little more than just another thought experiment. Politics, legality, ideology, religion, culture, individuality, philosophy, science, psychology, sociality, technology. We rank each according to our personal priorities, regarding such assessments as relative. Most are. Yet fundamentals still remain.
At some point, a society is destined to turn on itself and to lose sight of whatever it was intended to be and originally founded upon. We the people grow too distracted, too casual in our valuations, too soft thanks to comfortable living, to where we no longer can properly discern what is truly fundamental, unable to tease it away from the rest of our preferences and wishful thinking. Progress leads us to thinking that whatever we might dream up can (and should) be somehow brought to fruition. If only we press hard enough, if we “educate” others to see things our way, if we pressure laws to be changed to suit our ideological leanings and visions for the future. We begin looking at ourselves and one another as belonging to teams, political or otherwise, and resort to competing over the most banal matters.
Eventually, we get lost.
Tyranny depends on a confused and disoriented populace. Hence why it sows divisions among us. All serves to distract and keep us busy so that we don’t react against the powers-that-be. Those powers shift and change over the Ages, but always they play a similar game. Who are they? Mere humans. What do they strive for? Power, control, wealth, and a God-like stature that enables them to usher in their particular vision for humanity. Why? Because that’s how human nature works when ambition and greed is allowed to run amok for too long unchecked. What do we do about? Very little considering how tasked we are by our day-to-day obligations and triflings, compounded by our various disputes of however much substance that undermine our ability to unite with one another to launch an effective response (as would be needed to go up against the scope and ferocity of powers at play today). Often we talk about what is wrong with the world and what we ought to do about it. Yet, here we are: watching, listening, waiting, wondering. Feeling pressed. Wishing to stave off conflicts that appear more inevitable with each passing year, hoping our luck will hold out, nevermind future generations likely being left to contend with it on their own (despite their utter lack of preparation to do so).
I get bogged down by these considerations on a regular basis. What is one to do with an outlook such as this? How does one defend against a Leviathan that’s been allowed to grow this massive and powerful? How does one form bonds with their fellows when we’re all so divided and seemingly incapable of coming back together anytime soon? What is one’s individual role in response to this then?
Lots of questions arise, begging for answers I do not know. What we do know is that we must remain free to think and speak honestly if ever there will be a chance of sorting any of this out.
The pondering rolls onward…