Rules for Chaos

Jordan Peterson’s Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life is a compelling meditation on the human condition disguised as a self-help book. It speaks unfashionable truths and offers a serious teaching about how individuals ought to face those truths. Peterson’s works are an apolitical breath of fresh air in our hyper-politicized, decaying age. If you are a broken person, this book is for you. And since all of us are broken, there is much in Peterson for everyone.

Peterson’s first book of rules particularly resonates with me. After offering rules, he raises questions and provides pithy, morally serious answers. “What shall I do with my infant’s death?” he asks. Answer: “Hold my other loved ones and heal their pain.” His daughter had debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. I can relate. My daughter had cancer and suffered greatly from baleful side effects. I faced the “when-do-you-pull-the-plug” question. I had three other children worried about their sister and a wife pained at the prospect of losing her only daughter. I called my wisest friend and asked him to tell me how to handle myself, since I too was overwhelmed with responsibility and grief. His answer, thankfully not needed, was to serve them in their grief. But seeing Peterson’s fascinating aphorism brought back floods of truth mixed with tears. Even writing this puts a lump in my throat.

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