Whether or not you are a parent, ask yourself this question. If you had to choose for your child which would you prefer: Outward success or inner happiness? In Jordan Peterson's rule 5 "Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them," Peterson gives his answer clear as day. At least it is an answer.
In this discussion of Peterson's book "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote To Chaos," I bring up the stories of Sleeping Beauty versus Petronilla, William Blake's poem "The Little Vagabond," Edward Dyer's "My Mind to Me A Kingdom Is," and a fair bit of Socratic inquiry. Peterson offers many interesting insights. The more I dig into his self-help philosophy the more I see the glaring face of a very peculiar American
Philosopher, and the more I fall down holes that cannot be rectified.
Well, at least not by Peterson.
The Little Vagabond
BY WILLIAM BLAKE
Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,
But the Ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm;
Besides I can tell where I am use'd well,
Such usage in heaven will never do well.
But if at the Church they would give us some Ale.
And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale;
We'd sing and we'd pray, all the live-long day;
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray,
Then the Parson might preach & drink & sing.
And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring:
And modest dame Lurch, who is always at Church,
Would not have bandy children nor fasting nor birch.
And God like a father rejoicing to see,
His children as pleasant and happy as he:
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the Barrel
But kiss him & give him both drink and apparel.
By Edward Dyer
MY mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to feed a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all.
I see how plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those which are aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all:
They get with toil, they keep with fear:
Such cares my mind could never bear.
Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
Some have too much, yet still do crave;
I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.
I laugh not at another’s loss,
I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
My state at one doth still remain:
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.
Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
Their wisdom by their rage of will;
Their treasure is their only trust,
A cloakèd craft their store of skill;
But all the pleasure that I find
Is to maintain a quiet mind.
My wealth is health and perfect ease,
My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,
Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!