A Canadian coach speaks out against biological males in women’s sports
A sizeable sector of the Canadian sports bureaucracy has recently decided that it is acceptable to allow a biological male to compete against female athletes. Clearly inspired by Bill C16, it is an interpretation of this amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act that requires scrutiny.
Take, for example, U SPORTS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). They introduced a policy in 2018 making it permissible for anyone to compete in the category with which they “identify.” A person could be on the men’s team one semester, then self-declare as a “woman” and immediately compete on the women’s team the next semester without being expected to undergo any form of pharmaceutical or surgical intervention.
Those of us coaching every day at ground level are dumbfounded by this development and we strongly disagree. In no way can this be fair to female athletes!
Now, I have played and worked in the sports sector for over 40 years across the globe: in South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. As an athlete in track and field I won national championships, set national records, achieved NCAA “All American” accolades and proudly represented Canada on many national teams. As a leader, I have coached hundreds of athletes across the development spectrum—beginner to professional—in at least seventeen different sports and even assisted a pair of figure skaters to Olympic Gold (2002). And now I also represent some 3500 people, having been elected as president of the board at Athletics Alberta.
In all these years, after many a scandal, I have NEVER seen anything as preposterous as this “inclusion” doctrine.
Anecdotes accumulate across media platforms about male cyclists, weightlifters and track athletes establishing dominance on female podiums. More alarming, still, are the true stories about female bodies being crushed by impact with male contenders in the contact sports of handball, rugby and MMA fights.
Any policy forbidding us to make a distinction between the sexes is sure to impact athletes and competition officials, alike. Parents have already informed me that they will remove their daughters from sports if their girls are compelled to compete with males and/or share private spaces with them in locker rooms and hotel rooms. And if sports officials become worried about volunteering for fear of being labelled “hateful” in awkward situations where a participant’s identity must be resolved, we will have no ability to conduct competitions at all.
The situation as it applies to Canada seems ironic in the extreme. Even as we launch a national campaign to emphasize “safe sport,” this particular doctrine of “inclusion” is being promoted that will make female athletes more vulnerable than they have ever been in the history of sports!
Perhaps a better word might be “hypocrisy.” What other word could be used when we see the Government of Canada virtue-signaling about investing heavily in gender equity even as it privileges an ideology that threatens to push girls out of sports completely:
“In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced a target to achieve gender equity in sport at every level by 2035. This included an initial commitment of $30 million over three years to support data and research into innovative practices to promote women and girls’ participation in sport, and to support national sports organizations in promoting greater inclusion of women and girls in all facets of sport.”
For someone like me with an advanced degree in human biological sciences, the situation is perplexing, indeed. It has long been established that biological sex is permanent and that male athletes enjoy all the benefits their genetic category provides: bigger heart, larger lungs, stronger bones, larger body, greater muscle mass, more blood volume, greater size of tubes bringing air into the lungs, and an exaggerated level of aggressiveness, to list just a fraction of the vast array of physical advantages.
So, when I am coaching a young girl who has all the hopes and dreams of sporting success in her heart, what do I tell her? Am I supposed to lie? Am I supposed to pretend like she has any chance at making a team or a final when I look down the road at an ever-increasing number of male bodies who will be self-identifying into her category?
This situation begs so many more questions: How did we arrive at a point where Canadian sports leaders are formulating and promoting policies that completely ignore the existence of sexual dimorphism (physical differences between sexes)? Was a GBA undertaken? If so, was the impact on female athletes considered?
And what do we do now? How in the world do female athletes in Canada seek redress when everyone is afraid of running afoul of the law? Who is going to listen even if we can find a way to discuss this matter?
It is worthy of note that the very entity that was established to advocate on behalf of female athletes in Canada—the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sports (CAAWS)—is the one sending speakers to various sports association meetings across the country promoting 100% acceptance of “transwomen” athletes into female sports (presumably at the behest of those eager to promote an agenda using Bill C16). A quick check online reveals the following Position Statement:
“Consistent with existing human rights legislation and CAAWS’s ongoing commitment to achieving equity for girls and women, CAAWS supports the full participation of all individuals in sport and physical activity in the gender in which they identify.”
They claim this is an effort to promote “inclusion” and “safety” in sports. Common sense tells us that it does no such thing. It cannot be “inclusive,” when the very presence of the biological male athlete serves to exclude a female athlete from a lane in a final race or from a position on a team! It is not “safe” when the legislation offers no mechanism to screen for ill intent and when the resulting physical injuries are bound to happen in only one direction.
Since the intent of Bill C16 was to address “discrimination”, I cannot help but ask: Which entity is experiencing discrimination here? When “gender identity” and “gender expression” were added to the Human Rights Act, was “sex” removed? Is it possible that as sports bureaucrats in Canada spend so much time promoting the shiny new rule, they have forgotten that “discrimination on the basis of biological sex” is ALSO still a possibility? Because for me and so many of my colleagues, it seems clear that including a male person in female competition inevitably results in “discrimination on the basis of sex.”
As a person with mentorship status in Canadian sport, I do not recall having been consulted about this doctrine and its impact. When I ask female colleagues, young and old, if they were consulted, nobody has answered in the affirmative. It is fair to say that female athletes across Canada were not consulted.
Apparently, the one person who WAS consulted happens to be a medical doctor who specializes in the hormonal and surgical transitioning of children. He was the key expert on an ad hoc working group assembled by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) in 2012 to consider “trans inclusion” in sports. The document of recommendations (2016) resulting from this one working group is now being foisted upon sports associations across Canada as the unassailable authority on “gender inclusion.”
Take a moment to absorb the irony, once again. A bureaucratic entity (CCES) whose sole purpose is to advocate for NO CHEATING and NO HARM in Canadian sports now makes it a priority to convince the entire sports sector that biological males should be welcome to compete against female athletes with no questions asked. In what way is this ethical or appropriate?
Those of us who conduct sports at ground level have a duty to sound the alarm. Members of parliament MUST understand the crisis that is about to unfold due to this faulty, ill-advised legislation.
Surely, the demise of women’s sports was not the intent of Bill C16?
On the bright side, I believe there are ways that a compromise can be achieved. Looking to our friends across the pond in the UK, their version of Bill C16 has built-in exemptions in law to protect female persons in specific contexts, including in sports. At ground level in Canadian sports, it might even be possible to include a third category in some instances to accommodate self-ID athletes.
Whatever the case may be, it is impossible to arrive at a happy consensus if we are offered no safe forum to meet and speak on this topic. It is beyond time that we are permitted to have this conversation about “inclusion” in Canadian sports without fear of reprisal.
A female inmate at the Logan Correctional Centre in Illinois is suing the prison after alleging they attempted to cover up her sexual assault by a transgender inmate that was housed with her.
The proceedings were covered by Public Broadcasting Service station WTTW, who reported the victim, referred to as Jane Doe, was sexually assaulted in June 2019. Doe alleges she was then coerced by a correctional officer into withdrawing her claim, which led to her being punished for having filed a false report under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Doe’s alleged assailant is named as Janiah Monroe, a transgender inmate who identifies as female but has male genitalia. According to WTTW, Monroe and another transgender inmate recently sued the Illinois Department of Corrections, demanding transfers to women’s facilities. Monroe, formerly known as Andre Patterson, had been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the attempted murder of a government employee, before receiving an additional 20 years for murdering a cellmate after being imprisoned.
In her lawsuit, Jane Doe states Monroe began “expressing an interest” in her after being transferred to Logan Corrections Centre. On June 18th, 2019, Doe was sexually assaulted by Monroe. The smaller female says she was “easily overpowered.”
Doe says she was interviewed by senior correctional officer Todd Sexton while in the prison’s Health Unit, who allegedly did not believe she had been assaulted, and pressured her to retract her statement. Determining it was “consensual sex,” Doe was punished as having committed the “major infraction” of filing a false rape report, and was punished under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Alan Mills, who leads the Uptown People’s Law Center, the firm which sued the Illinois Department of Corrections to demand Monroe’s transfer, claimed Monroe may have been targeted due to “transphobia.”
Working in the media for over two decades has afforded me the chance to meet many of my heroes. Some encounters lived up to expectation and others were small disasters.
Lighting up an imported stogie with Robert Lantos in his midtown home was delightful. Sitting under a cabana at the Beverly Hilton with Gary Shandling was heavenly. And sitting in the green room with the late Don Rickles in Montreal was emotionally orgasmic.
But how do I describe my exchange with Jordan Peterson?
Let me give it my best shot. Some moons ago, a friend of mine was one of Peterson’s students. She spoke of her intriguing psychology professor and promised that she would let me tag along for a morning lecture at U of T. I passed it off as a flip invite that would never come to be—but I secretly hoped I was wrong.
Sure enough, one day, as I had my face buried in paperwork at my Summerhill intern desk, my friend Sarah stopped by out of nowhere. She told me to pack up my stuff and escorted me to class with her. I should have never doubted her.
Sarah and I did a fast parallel park on Bloor Street West and sauntered over to The Arts and Sciences Building. Cue Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me.” Sound the trumpets. I was in Peterson’s world.
I guess you might say Peterson was enjoying relative obscurity then, in as much as genius can ever be truly obscure. It tends to illuminate, even under the dim of low wattage bulbs. But compared to his ubiquitous fame now, he was an unknown.
The lecture hall filled quicker than a king-sized beer mug at happy hour. The empty glass of water at the podium was a prolepsis for some of Peterson’s epic rants and proliferating insights. The excitement was palpable. And so was the budding adoration for the professor at the helm.
“This guy’s lectures are dope. The best Prof in Canada. Dude’s got game” proclaimed a well-tattooed man sitting one row under me.
I took another look around as Dr. Peterson made his way to the podium. To my surprise, students were devoid of the glassy film that usually covers the eyes of hopeful graduates. Laptops were fully charged. Pens were dipped in fresh ink. Hangovers were whipped into submission by copious amounts of caffeine and adrenaline.
This was not the lecture hall culture that I remembered. This was a brave new world known as Peterson’s Playhouse. Peterson wore blue jeans with a dark cardigan and a dress shirt underneath. He was clean-shaven with an ashen pallor. He was dark under the eyes and looked quite exhausted— which as I understand it now, was insomnia’s doing.
After gathering his thoughts, Peterson started lecturing. He quickly led us into a comprehensive examination of why both individuals and groups participate in social conflict, and the reasoning and motivation individuals take to support their belief systems (ideological identification) that result in mass killing and pathological atrocity.
Just another day at the office for Alberta’s most influential intellectual export. Midway into his 2-hour lecture, Peterson started to speak about the Holocaust and the horrors of Auschwitz. He did this as an academic adjunct to his primary supposition about belief systems.
Unexpectedly, he went into a searing psychological examination of the Nazis and the hundreds of thousands of German soldiers who were left bereft of human conscience as they dangled in the throws of ideological imposition by the Hitler regime.
Now I have attended many Holocaust remembrance events over the years. Each one, heart-rending in its own way. I have sat with survivors of the camps—each conversation sending shivers down my spine and taking me into the deepest recesses of spiritual pause.
But this was something different. Peterson struck an isolated chord.
Maybe it was the surprise of seeing a gentile Professor speaking with such passion and conviction about a topic that was so personal to me. I am not quite sure. But as Peterson’s voice cracked with raw emotion, I felt my own connection with the worst tragedy of Jewish history, grow deeper and stronger.
“We read about the Holocaust, and study it now, but we have no way to actually comprehend this kind of evil. This kind of unbridled malevolence,” Peterson said, eyes watering and body trembling.
“You don’t think it can happen again, well guess again man,” the professor exclaimed.
“Don’t underestimate the human capacity for evil. And it lives in all of us. You need to know how bad you CAN be, to commit to how good you MUST be,” said Peterson, as though it was his last breath.
I was so taken by the emotional power of the lecture that I waited 40 minutes after class to shake Peterson’s hand and thank him personally. I watched from a distance as he met his perfunctory obligations and shook hands with students.
The line moved quite slowly but I finally got to meet him.
“How can I help you, young man,” he said to me playfully.
“I just wanted to thank you, Professor, for such an amazing lecture,” I said. “As a Jewish person
I found your words about the Holocaust to be soul-stirring. I did not expect such words in a university environment,” I said nervously.
He said, “What is your aspiration? What are you hoping to do in life?”
I said, “I am a poet and aspiring writer, director, producer.”
“Well, history is in the hands of our best writers. So make us proud,” he said with a smile.
I would like to say the chat went on longer but that was it. Over before it really began. Some shlemiel came out of nowhere and nudged me to the side with an oversized Macbook. I could have sued. Diamond and Diamond could have sent me into early retirement with that one.
When I see Peterson on the big American talk shows or speaking at sold-out theatres across the world, I think back to the early lecture I attended. Was there any sign back then of the international fame that awaited him? Was he earmarked for world influence?
I don’t think anyone, including him, could have predicted the Peterson phenomenon. But I do think he was always an eminently smart and compelling character. And his proclivity to hold firm on his beliefs, and still confess deep vulnerability, was so rare.
So yeah, I think the signs were always there from the beginning.
Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has dominated the best-sellers charts in dozens of countries. Estimates say the popular self-help book has moved in excess of 3 million copies worldwide. The book has given inspiration, insight and hope to struggling folks in virtually every corner of the globe.
Thank you, Dr. Peterson, for doing so much good. I can always say, I knew you—briefly—way back when.
In recent weeks, there has been much written about Peterson’s health challenges (and near-death experience) with a dependency on and severe reaction to clonazepam, a commonly prescribed drug in the benzodiazepine family. He started taking the drug shortly after he found out his wife, Tammy, had terminal cancer.
When a prominent self-help guru loses his footing, I suppose there is a sense of irony and morbid curiosity that naturally ensues. But that does not justify kicking a guy while he’s down. Some of the remarks directed at Peterson and his family, since news of his medical condition emerged, have been downright grisly.
It’s sad that being ill and bed-ridden in Russia gave his political adversaries an opening for rancour and an opportunity to push their own twisted agendas.
But this is the world we live in.
Be that as it may—even if Peterson were to never speak publicly again, I am convinced history would remember him as a brave friend to humanity. Maybe not the kind that one expected or summoned for. But one that said what needed to be said. And one that did what needed to be done.
A lesbian event has been removed from Sydney, Australia’s LGBT Pride after a vocal minority protested the participation of a popular lesbian YouTuber with critical views towards transgender self-ID.
Arielle Scarcella runs an LGBT-centred YouTube channel with over 630,000 subscribers.
She has also spoken out against self-ID laws which have enabled biological males to be transferred to women’s prisons after the commission of serious offences, such as sexual assaults. In 2018, Scarcella collaborated on a video with Blaire White discussing how lesbian sexual preferences that do not include an attraction to biological males who transition to female were not “transphobic.”
Les-Talk was originally planned to be one of the events featured at Sydney Mardi Gras, the local Pride parade and festival. A panel-style discussion also featuring Tania Safi of Buzzfeed, the event began to draw ire from trans rights activists for including Scarcella. A petition was launched on February 15 demanding Scarcella be removed and replaced “preferably by someone of intersectionality.”
The petition was launched by Johnny Valkyrie, a transman and drag performer most notorious for a January incident at the Brisbane National Library. Valkyrie hosted Drag Storytime at the library, and was one of the two performers confronted by demonstrators from the University of Queensland National Liberal Club chanting “drag queens are not for kids.” The protestors were filmed and doxed.
The doxing resulted in one of the protestors, an openly gay student named Wilson Gavin, committing suicide the next day. Valkyrie used the opportunity at the library to raise funds for his “top surgery,” including a post on the day-of Gavin’s death—later updating the post to claim it was made prior to knowledge of his passing.
According to Valkyrie’s petition, Tania Safi of Buzzfeed has already dropped out of Les-Talk stating “I do not agree with Arielle’s transphobic and biphobic beliefs.”
10 Hours ago, Valkyrie uploaded an update to the petition, celebrating the “deplatforming” of Scarcella and Les-Talk.
Les-Talk was not officially cancelled, but was disassociated from Mardi Gras, according to a Facebook post made on the event’s official page. According to the post, the event is going forward being “privately held” by the “POC Queer women” organizing it.
Scarcella has not been disinvited from the event, and the event will proceed at another venue, separate from the LGBT Pride festivities.
Les-Talk’s Facebook page was littered with offers of support posted to the page’s wall by individuals outraged by Scarcella’s treatment.
Even multiple transpeople defended Scarcella’s beliefs, asserting she was not transphobic. One transwoman pleaded with the community to give Scarcella a “second chance,” while a transman praised Scarcella for “saying things no one else talks about.”
Scarcella is dismissive of the claims of transphobia, asserting she is anything but. “People have labeled me transphobic for being critical of trans ideas. I have no issues with being transgender. I’ve had more trans people in my videos than any other YouTuber to date,” she told The Post Millennial, noting that her only issue is with self-identification laws which might put women in danger.
“To those who truly believe I’m transphobic, I hope you change your hive-mind mentality and see how much you’re hurting your own community by acting so hateful.”
Jordan Peterson gave his first biblical lecture in the spring of 2017. From the beginning, he designed the lectures to educate himself, along with his listeners, in the rudiments of Western civilization.
“When I’m lecturing, I’m thinking. I’m not trying to tell you what I know for sure to be the case, because there’s lots of things that I don’t know for sure to be the case. I’m trying to make sense out of this… This is part of the process by which I’m doing that, and so I’m doing my best to think on my feet. I come prepared, but I’m trying to stay on the edge of my capacity to generate knowledge, to make this continually clear, and to get to the bottom of things.
“The idea is to see if there’s something at the bottom of this amazing civilization that we’ve managed to structure, and that I think is in peril, for a variety of reasons. Maybe, if we understand it a little bit better, we won’t be so prone just to throw the damn thing away, which I think would be a big mistake. And to throw it away because of resentment, hatred, bitterness, historical ignorance, jealousy, the desire for destruction, and all of that… I don’t want to go there. It’s a bad idea, to go there. We need to be better grounded.” – Biblical Series I
Jordan’s latest University of Toronto course had ended two weeks prior; his Patreon page boomed with new donors; the media buzzed with his hard-nosed approach to free speech detractors. He finally had the trifecta of time, capital, and platform for his deepest ideas to reach an international audience.
But in a time of internet porn, video games, and church closures, who would care about a dense, technically-worded, two-hour lecture on Adam and Eve? Explained with a fusion of evolutionary biology, behavioural psychology, a smattering of world mythology, and Jungian psychoanalysis, the lectures may have seemed suited for a stuffy university classroom, rather than a 500-seat public theatre.
In the eyes of YouTube’s censorship team, a culture apathetic to biblical stories was insurance too cheap. Perhaps sensing a threat to their radical leftist dogma, they sought to stymie Jordan’s popularity. On August 1, 2017, he was locked from his YouTube account, without explanation, as he attempted to upload a two-hour lecture on Abraham. That same day, after popular uproar and a flurry of online articles, his account was reinstated—again, without explanation.
In enforcement, such censorship has been softened by modern technology. In intent, it remains in lockstep with the raison-d’être of Thinkpol. This is hardly surprising, as the Bible depicts stories of absolute moral rights and absolute moral wrongs: ironic as it may be, these strictures are anathema to those who hold moral relativity above all else.
“God, in the Old Testament, is frequently cruel, arbitrary, demanding, and paradoxical, which is one of the things that really gives the book life. It wasn’t edited by a committee that was concerned with not offending anyone. That’s for sure.” – Biblical Series I
Apathy for the Bible could never last in a culture grown from Christian values. Jordan’s biblical lectures sold out; a fact that astonished the now-best-selling author. Moreover, the 15 lectures have been viewed 21 million times on his YouTube channel. But the strangest part was the focused silence of his live audience, and how they unfailingly filled each lecture’s final half-hour with carefully-worded existential questions.
As Jordan’s supporters well know, his psychological analysis can move from ancient Mesopotamian politics in one sentence to lobsters in the next, and then finish by tying it all to a Jean Piaget theory. But there are core messages — rules, if you will — about being that he has extracted from the Bible and colloquially explained, making those who care to listen all the wiser.
Rule 1: Never resent the structure of existence
Life is a “catastrophe from beginning to end”, suffering is the default mode of existence, and our ever-changing environment demands that we toil in order to persist. You will be betrayed, your loved ones will become terminally ill, and whatever beauty you possess will wither and be forgotten in a matter of decades. Equity is unknown to nature. To make matters worse, be resentful, ruminating on the tragedy of it all and cursing the force that made this mess.
Everyone understands these sentiments. But the most successful among us acknowledge the horror of life, along with their capacity to contribute to it, and decide to hold faith that they can improve reality. They are alive, after all. What else is there to do? Opposed to nihilism, we could say that every action alters reality and that we may as well spend our time aiming at the Good.
The dangers of resentment have been told for millennia through the hostile brothers motif. In the Cain and Abel story, Cain fails to achieve an aim. He becomes resentful towards the seemingly unfair structure of existence, while his brother, Abel, uses proper sacrifice to thrive. Abel is simultaneously the embodiment of Cain’s ideal, a glowing reminder of Cain’s failure, and a target for revenge. Fueled by resentment, Cain lashes out and murders Abel. But Cain’s ideal, abstract beyond its manifestation in Abel, lives on and judges him with a punishment too great for him to bear.
Resentment is destructive in any form, only adding to our shared plight. When it comes to alleviating suffering, it simply isn’t practical. Neither is passive nihilism (a supposedly careless and neutral state), which causes a lack of meaningful engagement in the world that is both depressing and anxiety-provoking. Depression then causes the amygdala to grow, increasing emotional sensitivity. Suffering intensifies, and thus, reason for resentment. We fragment in the absence of a unifying aim, and our subpersonalities run amok in the cracks.
Rule 2: Listen to your subpersonalities and be wary of their advice
It has been known since the ancient Greeks — and undoubtedly before — that the human psyche is comprised of a multitude of spirits, gods, or subpersonalities. As Jordan noted, “you’re a loose collection of living subpersonalities, each with its own set of motivations, perceptions, emotions, and rationales, and you have limited control over that. You’re like a plurality of internal personalities that’s loosely linked into a unity.”
Some subpersonalities manifest as raw impulses — heated anger, raw lust, arrogant rationale — while others are more subtle manipulations. A timid child, for example, can decide to enter into an “unholy alliance” with an over-dependent parent, to avoid the pains of personal development.
When such voices arise, it is of the utmost importance to hear them for what they are: forces constantly warring for supremacy. Unchecked, they can guide us down a path of resentment. As Carl Jung said, “everybody acts out a myth, but very few people know what their myth is.”
What we consider to be subpersonalities were, to the ancient Greeks, manifestations of gods, giving rise to both creative and destructive instinct. So, the next time you find yourself inexplicably drawn to a hobby, you can think of it as a divine message, delivered by Mercury, to guide you down a mythical path. The key is to listen and determine if it aids your unified aim, rather than to be blindly led.
Rule 3: Direct personal development with your worst experiences
Order and chaos. Known and unknown. Yin and yang. Darkness and light. These are dichotomies used to describe the abstract field in which we function, and the two sides of a prosperous balance. For those of us living in a democracy, order is usually well managed. The easy part. The task of delving into chaos and using our discoveries to update the order is what puts us at risk. But, uncomfortable as it may be, that is the only way to generate wealth for oneself and one’s community.
No matter the scale of the incident, our worst experiences are, intrinsically, the most instructive. That is because it is within the unknown when we are fools, novices, and most easily dissuaded by anxiety and self-doubt. If a bad experience causes retreat into bitterness and resentment, then chaos has won the battle. But if the experience gives rise to constructive analysis and tenacity, then a new tool has been forged. Superficially, defeat has been the short-term outcome: an aim missed, a pitch rejected, a relationship denied. That could be the end of it. Spiritual defeat, as well as material. But for an individual with faith in their aim, it becomes a lesson that makes them stronger. Wealth has been scavenged from the chaos.
This rule is given to us in the story of Joseph. Betrayed by his brothers, Joseph is sold into slavery, and he later becomes a prisoner in Egypt. However brutal, these experiences do not embitter him. He continues to believe in the good and never uses his misfortune as an excuse to transgress his morals. Each misfortunate strengthens him, and, as a result, his competency becomes indisputable and rewarded.
Rule 4: Have a clear aim, and make it the best conceivable aim
Knowingly or not, everyone interprets reality through an overlaying value structure. Subpersonalities can distort those values and take us down paths against our better judgement. But values can also be clarified by aiming at an ideal. In either case, values limit action, and, as such, they play a substantial role in the creation of aims.
An ideal sits at the top of our value structure, and our relationship to it can cause a great deal of positive and negative emotion. In one example, Cain could not bear to see his brother succeed where he had failed, and so, like a jealous lover, he used his brother’s flesh as a means to attack his own set of values. Immediately, Cain judged that he had become ultimately reprehensible, an inhabitant of the deepest hell, for attacking the successful embodiment of his own ideal.
The opposite of that would be to pursue the best conceivable aim and keep faith that it is worth any sacrifice. But the more ambitious an aim, the more sacrifice and faith required. To make matters more complicated, if one’s aim is merely a crude mimicking of an ideal, motivation (willingness to sacrifice) also proves difficult. Challenging as it may be, the axiom is to embody the best possible set of abstract, transcendent values, and to thereby unite heaven and earth.
“The horrors of life are, of course, that everything eats everything else, and that everything dies, and that everything’s born, and that the whole bloody place is a charnel house, and it’s a catastrophe from beginning to end. This is the vision of it being other than that.” -Biblical Series IV
To enjoy life is to have so much faith in an aim that we are excited to make the necessary sacrifices. This outweighs the default horror of existence and makes living a net positive. In other words, aiming for the highest Good makes life not only bearable, but desirable. Biologically, this maintains the health of the hippocampus and its inhibition of emotional sensitivity. At the same time, taking action against chaos causes dopaminergic activation: the suppression of anxiety and pain. These reactions may be considered an evolutionary basis for fortune favouring the bold.
Unfortunately, the transcendent alignment that comes with pursuing a worthy aim disappears when it is achieved. A vacuum follows, ready to be filled with another aim. We can think of this as having a singular, ever-transforming aim that clarifies as a result of our effort to reach it. But it also means that an ideal can never be fully realized. This could be considered a consequence of our ability to conceptualize the future, and the meaning of original sin.
Carl Jung and Friedrich Nietzsche disagreed on how to conceive a transcendent aim. Nietzsche believed that Westerners, having lost faith in Christianity, had to create their own values. Jung thought the lack of unity within the human psyche made that impossible. Instead, individuals should utilize their subpersonalities and cultural history to make a “supreme moral effort” in their lives.
Following Jung’s advice, we engage in an evolutionary process of discovering a transcendent ideal. The bible is a guide: “these [biblical] stories are trying to express what you might describe as an unchanging, transcendent reality. It’s something like what’s common across all human experience, across all time.” Along the way, cultures have represented their ideals in artistic form. That which remains can and should be used to inform our behaviour.
Rule 5: Maintain a cultural locus
Jordan highlighted the practical reason for having a cultural locus during the 2018 Munk debate: “we need something approximating a low resolution grand narrative to unite us. Otherwise we don’t have peace.”
Thousands of years ago, a cultural locus could have been as simple as an upright stone in the center of a village. Representing that shared values existed, and that their embodiment resulted in prosperity, was enough. Today, the Chartres Cathedral is one example of a cultural locus, representing, with its labyrinth and cross-shaped structure, that voluntary sacrifice leads to salvation. Another is the Pietà, representing the role of the archetypal Mother.
These works of art speak to an optimum human experience. As such, they are densely packed with information on how to embody a set of values that the creator’s culture deemed transcendent, practical, and divine.
Faith in shared values makes cultures strong and united — confident enough, for example, to start 200-year construction projects that represent the divinity of those values. But if that faith is lost, a person or culture will fragment internally and lose its peace. Cultural loci protect against that by reminding us of the value of faith, and by giving us stable measures for recalibrating our aims. From this perspective, art can be seen as a tool to stave off chaos.
We should study and maintain our traditional art and places of worship, because there is too much about the human experience for us to learn in a single lifetime. We are historical creatures, and it would be disastrous to disregard the behavioural patterns by which we arrived at our current standard of living. But relying too heavily on the lessons of the dead would be to “live on the corpse of your ancestors,” reneging the duty of cultural revivification and inviting the same kind of chaos that comes to those who live too long under parental control. Therefore, we must maintain cultural loci by combining traditional values and new discoveries, updating the loci as we clarify our conception of a transcendent ideal.