Most people fear being dangerous. They fear the inner demons that reside in the dark corners of their soul, the ones that conjure up unspeakable fantasies of destruction, mayhem and evil. This darkness within us can be the breeding ground for bitterness and resentment towards the world, towards life itself. Afraid of our own capacity for evil, we ignore or repress our demons and hide behind a “Persona”, a mask, that we use to convince society that we are nice people. Good people. Harmless people. But our inner “Shadow”, that primal or animal part of our unconscious brain capable of destruction, if integrated appropriately, can actually strengthen, transform and make us whole. By understanding our Shadow, coming to terms with it and then bringing it under our control, we can come to respect ourselves because we are dangerous. Because, if necessary, we can impose our will by force. And when we respect ourselves we can then demand respect from the world. So instead of running from our demons we should face them head on. Then, and only then, can we voluntarily choose to enter into the unknown and slay “dragons” – chaos, tyranny, injustice. We can become dangerous but disciplined. We can take responsibility for our lives and seek to change the world by first changing ourselves, focusing on those things immediately around us. Those things that we all know we should be doing but aren’t.
We can start the process of transforming our world by first cleaning our rooms.
This process of self-awareness and reform is called the “integration of the Shadow” and is a concept first outlined by the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the 20th century. Fortunately for us all, the modern-daydragon slayer Jordan B. Peterson has once again resurfaced many of Jung’s teachings about archetypes including those such as the Persona and Shadow and repackaged them for a modern YouTube addicted audience.
Veterans of all shapes and sizes would do well to delve into these words of wisdom. What follows is a primer to help get you started.
Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto who has risen to prominence within the depths of the so called “intellectual dark web” – a group of intellects, scholars and thinkers that challenge the politically correct stranglehold on mainstream mediaby spreading their ideas via online. Peterson’s videos have more than 150 million views and his most recent book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has topped best seller lists across the world. A recurring theme among Peterson’s ideas is an obsession with understanding the origins of totalitarianism, which he believes is ultimately rooted in the failure to recognize mankind’s Shadow and then integrate it properly. Collectivists and totalitarians mask their capacity for evil behind supposed good intentions and in their quest to achieve social “utopia”, have only left behind millions of corpses in their wake. “We are all monsters and if you don’t know that, then you are in danger of becoming the very monster that you deny,” he says. The evil mankind is capable of – that all of us are capable of – is without a doubt frightening beyond our capacity to understand. The Nazi concentration camps and Soviet gulags leave no doubt about that fact. America’s Founders were not naïve about the capacity for man’s corruptibility. Madison, the author of the Constitution, explicitly recognized that men are “fallen angels” and as such we can never place too much trust or power in any overly centralized single institution.
Many veterans find themselves haunted by their Shadows. By the dark corners of their soul that they were required to tap into in order to do their job. In order to wreak destruction and flirt with that fine line of mayhem and chaos. Others are haunted by the sights, sounds and smells no man should have to see, hear or ever smell. Others struggle with a loss of mission and discipline that creates purposelessness and nihilism and ultimately resentment and bitterness. Demons inside us abound. But instead of running from these demons we can face them head on. We can accept that yes, we are dangerous, but we are also disciplined. We can integrate our Shadows by sheathing our darkness and rage, knowing that WE are the master of these forces inside us and that WE will only use them when necessary: when the thugs lurking out in the chaos of the world threaten our family, friends or way of life. We can be dangerous, if necessary, so that we can defend the just.
To integrate our Shadows we first must become aware of them. We can do this through what Peterson calls “radical honesty.” It starts with stripping away our conceptions, assumptions and biases and truly paying attention to ourselves and acknowledging that yes, somewhere inside we harbor hidden devils. It then requires observing our thoughts, feelings and emotions with precision and extreme honesty. This leads to an examination and search for where our resentments and bitterness are coming from. Then, once they are found, one has to decide what is needed to remove these resentments. Is there someone you need to confront? Is there something that needs to be said? Is there a form of tyranny that needs to be reformed? Repressing our resentments only causes them to later emerge in terrible, terrible ways. As Peterson notes, one only has to look at a toxic office environment to see what happens when people don’t speak up. Instead of honest engagement about their problems, repression of resentment leads to passive-aggressive behavior and even a sort of happiness from torturing others.
Integrating our shadows is not only a means to transform ourselves but also a way to mentally heal from past traumas. In a recorded lecture, he advises his students to treat PTSD patients by encouraging their patients to develop a philosophy of evil and to voluntarily embrace their inner monster to fend off the possibility of being traumatized again. As he states in 12 Rules for Life, “the truly appalling potential of anger and aggression to produce cruelty and mayhem are balanced by the ability of those primordial forces to push back against oppression, speak truth, and motivate resolute movement forward in times of strife, uncertainty and danger.”
Look we were all once chimps. And to survive on the prairies of Africa we had to be capable of doing some horrific stuff. Like, shredding an enemy chimp into hamburger meat kind of stuff. We had to be capable of physically destroying those who threatened our lands, goods or people so that we could survive and so that our genes could carry on in the world. But we are also evolved chimps. And we can harness that destructive power within us and go forth into the world to do some Good. And that Good is first and foremost taking responsibility for our own lives, cleaning up what needs to be cleaned up and doing the things each of us knows we should be doing. That Good is not about radically transforming the perceived systemic injustices of our national or global political or economic systems. It’s about finding a meaningful goal, something that is good for both you and those around you, accepting responsibility for that goal and then moving towards it each day. Even if by a little. The satisfaction of meaning comes from progression. And knowing that we can defend the Good by our capacity to unleash the Shadow within us if necessary, we can go forth with confidence and boldness into the underworld of life, into the depths of chaos and slay the dragons that need to be slayed.
It’s important to note that Peterson is not advocating for you to turn into Heath Ledger’s Joker, some type of uncontrollable monster, wreaking mayhem on the world and wanting to watch it all burn. On the other hand, Peterson also often admonishes modern feminism for seeking to ensure all men are harmless betas. Weak men are the ones to watch out for he says. Weak men take advantage of those who cannot protect themselves. And weak men, those who are either ignorant of their Shadows or who lack the discipline to control them, are the ones who ultimately plague society.
To give you an example of a success I enjoyed from regulating my own dark side, I’ll take you back to one night during my sophomore year of college.
Sweat hung in the air amid the loud music and flashing lights of the dance floor. I stood there and scoffed to myself about how it seemed like yesterday that I was 20 years old and on pre-deployment leave only a year prior.
Suddenly, the music was shut off. A few young women entered the room and began shouting at the underclassmen. Apparently, they were coked-up regulars of these parties (I knew this because I literally watched them rip lines in the basement) who had been egged on by a senior wanting to humiliate the younger male students by having the girls berate them.
The harridans laid into the youngsters, most of whom just wanted to fit in at the party and subsequently clammed up – waiting for the comical scene to peter out. Two of the girls ganged up on one 23-yr-old freshman. Regrettably, that freshman had been viciously bullied in school before enlisting, having the tar hazed out of him, and eventually becoming a Marjah Marine. That freshman was your boy.
“Get the FUCK AWAY FROM ME!”
The room instantly fell silent. The women in front of me shrank back with wide eyes. Interestingly enough, the men standing behind them looked even more terrified.
Another veteran who was an upperclassman walked up and escorted me from the room. Before long, I was showered with a torrent of terrified apologies, offered beers and cigarettes.
While the ability to project power to put down delicate opponents is no feat of badassery, the post-blast analysis is something worth paying attention to.
When other new students were teased at parties, I was often left out of it. Yet I was not ostracized. In fact, I was introduced to girls, listened to when I spoke, and was treated with genuine respect. I later became a Brother of the military-friendly Kappa Sigma Fraternity (the same frat as certified badass Kyle Carpenter), where I befriended even more amazing people and secured post-grad employment. I respected myself, didn’t take people’s shit, and in turn was respected.
Yeah, getting that DD214 can give us a sense of liberation or freedom. But for many, it can strip us of the sense of purpose that comes from having a mission and from the routines and structure that breeds the discipline which helps keep our Shadows in check. The order that comes from following rules gives meaning to the chaos inherent to life. Unfortunately, so much of the outside world is dominated by nihilism. Modern day Leftist thinking is rooted in an ideology called postmodernism, Peterson’s preeminent adversary, which holds that all truth is relative and that life is nothing more than competing power struggles between oppressor and oppressed groups which are based upon immutable characteristics such as race or gender. Think “identity politics”, “virtue signaling” and “victimhood.” The problem with nihilism is that it strips us of responsibility because in a world where nothing really matters, why be responsible? And when we don’t take responsibility for our lives, we ultimately repress our Shadows and turn that bitterness and resentment towards others, towards scape goats.
In a recent interview with Jocko Willink, Peterson harped upon a recurring theme: fuck postmodernism and take responsibility for your life. This doesn’t have to be something revolutionary. He recommended first finding those things in our lives that are “self-evidently not good.” In other words, to sit down and spend 10 minutes thinking about those things that if we quit doing would make our life and those lives around us “a little less wretched.” If we are honest with ourselves we all know what those things are. We can start by focusing with those things immediately around us, such as that pile of laundry or dirty dishes. But those small changes add up and eventually we can get on the path towards making even more fundamental changes. You are not going to change the world, but at least you can make it a little less shitty.
In his interview with Jocko, Peterson also highlighted a verse from the Bible, Matthew 5:5 which says, “blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Peterson pointed out that the original Greek translation of “meek” (praus) was different from the connotations of the word we think of today. It means something more akin to strength under control: “those who have weapons and are capable of using them but keep them sheathed.”
Respect yourself –all aspects of yourself. Enter the world of chaos, take responsibility for what you need to take responsibility for and impose your will upon it. Know that yes you have demons, but those demons are under your control and if necessary you can unleash them to defend the Good.
Today’s Leftists want men to be like Phil Dunphy from the TV series Modern Family. A sorry excuse for a man who can’t stand up to his colleagues or neighbors let alone his wife or own children. We are told that we need to repress “toxic masculinity” and hide behind the persona of the weak beta so that we can all nicely fit into society – or so the “utopian” vision holds. They say that the Phil Dunphys are the “ideal” males…that they are the ones who will “inherent the earth.”
But they are wrong…
The dangerous but disciplined shall.
Bring on the demons.
Here are some other JP lectures I recommend to check out:
Jordan Peterson’s Interview with Jocko Willink:
Jordan Peterson on 12 Rules for Life:
Jordan Peterson on Joe Rogan:
Jordan Peterson at the Oxford Union:
Jordan Peterson Biblical Series:
BBC HARDtalk 6 AUG 18 Jordan Peterson