No, not the one with Islam.
The one within the West.
The one within us.
You might expect an observant Christian like me to say this sort of thing - and I have said it - but the speaker is actually the dear Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson. I'm so glad to be in this sort of company - with those who recognise that the fundamental problem of contemporary Western society is Theological. If the God of the Old & New Testament no longer forms our worldview then what ideas, what weaker, lesser gods, do?
I also readily identify with his championing of Individualism (which, contrary to popular belief these days, is not a dirty word) and the need for spoken truth. The man is a sterling example of someone who is a product of the Western intellectual inheritance (even while eschewing belief in the personal God of its religions) and understands the dire need to defend this inheritance.
Topics covered in this fascinating 83 minute interview include:~
- the purpose of memory and the need for purpose;
- the rarity & definition of freedom, as a distinctive of the recent history of the West;
- maximum freedom arises from the adoption of discipline & of responsibility;
- people innately know the classic archetypal themes surrounding meaning (fascinating - is this Conscience, at least in part?);
- the paucity of genuine encouragement offered to people who could really use some - it is so easy to give real encouragement, but we seldom do it;
- Dr Peterson has a lot of respect for most atheists as they as genuinely struggling with the large issues which many who go to church do not engage with (similarly I've found that I have a lot of respect for recovering alcoholics who have had to come to view themselves with brutal honesty in order simply to survive. This self-reflection is something which should be a characteristic of all Christians but, to our embarrassment, is not widely evident);
- the dignity of the individual (which originated in the Judeo-Christian tradition did it not?) stands at the heart of Western freedoms;
- the reality & necessity of inequality for free societies;
- what happened when the USSR decided to formally expunge inequality & the towering example of Solzhenitsyn (although, not believing in a personal, relational God inhibits Dr Peterson's understanding of Atonement; he merely views it as an instrument for psychological integration). How Solzhenitsyn discovered the dividing line between good & evil went through his own heart;
- our need to read history and reflect upon our own natures by putting ourselves in the place of the bad people instead of romantically imagining ourselves to be one of the "goodies" in the story. This provides a realistic view of ourselves. He compares this to the resurgence of unrealistic, Utopian Marxist ideas and their ruinous affect upon us;
- the importance of language - to reshape the way we speak and then with the way we think is to transform our lives;
- diversity now equals conformity;
- in contrast love individualism! The message of the West is the need to "live the mythologically heroic life as an individual" (avoiding at all costs identity politics) & attribute this privilege to all other people;
- the need to be honest in dialogue and not to base interchanges on wishful thinking;
- the problems of hate speech laws, they eventually lead to everyone suffering;
- freedom of speech is explicitly for those with minority views;
- there is a hierarchy of rights - but which rights are best?;
- Dr Peterson views Christ as a psychologist might - as an Ideal, the word or logos who speaks truth. Spoken truth is the West's Great Idea. This is why neo-Marxists are so determined to remove Christianity from public life;
- the current rapid spread of Christianity in China is proportionately faster than its fastest growth in ancient Rome;
- the central question of "what ideas possess you?" (you're already living according to them);
- the over-protective parent and their aftermath;
- "The worse thing you can do for someone who is anxious is over-protect them, it makes them worse" - this does reflect a lot of public life today;
- Is being a lone voice who cares for people and stands up for principles really a courageous act? Dr Peterson holds that being "afraid of the right things" (which he explains as "the fear of God") compels action that is at least wise, if not thoroughly courageous.
The very first question he answers only takes a couple of minutes to listen to and I'd ask you to do so even if you can't manage the whole interview (I think once you start you'll find it hard to stop though).
As Dr Peterson says, any culture that does not pass on its important beliefs and stories is already dead - it isn't in the process of dying, it is already dead. Being so riven & enervated we are quite incapable of mounting even a defensive resistance to Islam, a set of doctrines and ideas which we could ideologically & religiously easily overwhelm if we had a mind to.