Speak truth always and you will become a force to contend with

“One way of conceptualizing yourself is that you’re one speck of dust among seven billion. And when you conceptualize yourself that way, you might think… Well, what difference does it make what I say or do? And that’s actually quite convenient for you, because if it doesn’t matter what you say or do then you don’t have any responsibility and you can do whatever you want. The price you pay for that is a bit of nihilism. But if you don’t have to shoulder any responsibility, that’s a small price to pay. That’s the underground motivation for nihilism.

The other way of looking at it, and this is actually the accurate way of looking at it, is that you’re in a network, you’re a known in a network, so you can do a little bit of arithmetic very rapidly and just figure out how powerful you are. You know a thousand people. You’re going to know more than that over the course of your life. But let’s say a thousand for the sake of argument for now. They know a thousand people. That means you’re one person away from a million people, and two persons away from a billion people. And you’re the center of that network.

And now the way networks work is that information propagates in a network manner. So don’t underestimate the power of your speech. Western culture is logocentric. It’s predicated on the idea of the logos, that the logos is the sacred element of Western culture. It means that your capacity for speech is divine, it’s the thing that generates order from chaos, and then sometimes turns pathological order into chaos when it has to. Don’t underestimate the power of truth. There’s nothing more powerful.

Now, in order to speak what you regard as the truth you have to let go of the outcome. You have to think… Alright, I’m going to say what I think, stupid as I am, biased as I am, ignorant as I am, I’m going to state what I think as clearly as I can and I’m going to live with the consequences no matter what they are. Now the reason you think that, that’s an element of faith. The idea is that nothing brings a better world into being than the stated truth.

Now, you might have to pay a price for that. But that’s fine. You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you’re going to take. That’s it. So if you’re going to stand up for something, stand up for your truth. It’ll shape you, because people respond and object and tell you why you’re a fool and a biased moron and why you’re ignorant, and then if you listen to them you’ll be just that much less like that the next time you say something.

And if you do that for five years you’ll be so damn tough and articulate and able to communicate and withstand pressure that you won’t even recognize yourself, and then you’ll be a force to contend with.”

— Jordan Peterson, PhD, professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto



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