The Price of Meaning | Jordan Peterson

Excerpt from: 2017 Personality Lecture 13 

“It isn’t merely that your fate depends on whether or not you get your act together and to what degree you decide that you’re going to live out your own genuine being. It isn’t only your fate, it’s the fate of everyone that you’re networked with. You think well, there are seven billion people in the world and who are you? You’re just one little dust mote among that seven billion and so it really doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, but that’s simply not the case. It’s the wrong model, because you’re at the center of a network. You’re a node in a network, of course that’s even more true now that we have social media. You’ll know 1,000 people at least over the course of your life and they’ll know 1,000 people each and that puts you one person away from a million, and two persons away from a billion. That’s how you’re connected, and the things you do they’re like dropping a stone in a pond, the ripples move outward and they affect things in ways that you can’t fully comprehend, and it means that the things that you do and that you don’t do are far more important than you think. Of course the terror of realizing that is that actually starts to matter what you do, and you might say that’s better than living a meaningless existence, it’s better for it to matter. But I mean, if you really ask yourself: would you be so sure? If you had the choice: I can live with no responsibility whatsoever, the price I pay is that nothing matters. Or I can reverse that and everything matters, but I have to take the responsibility that is associated with that. It’s not so obvious to me that people would take the meaningful path. You say nihilists suffer dreadfully because there’s no meaning in their life and they still suffer yes, but the advantage is that they have no responsibilities. So that’s the payoff and I actually think that’s the motivation. ‘I can’t help being nihilistic all my belief systems have collapsed’. It’s like yes, maybe, or maybe you just allowed them to collapse because it’s a hell of a lot easier than acting them out.”

Jordan B. Peterson

“Everything you do matters.”

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