Jordan Peterson will appear on Q&A live from Melbourne on Monday, February 25.
On a Saturday afternoon a little over a week ago, just after 3pm, a 56-year-old man from Canada stood in front of 3,000 people at the Sydney Opera House and cried.
Dr Jordan B Peterson had been speaking for more than an hour, without so much as a single dot point to keep him company.
“Make the world better than it could be otherwise,” he told his audience, made up of men, women, old, young, liberal and conservative, seemingly only realising the words as he spoke them.
“Move it away from hell – and it can certainly become that – and towards heaven, and that is a good enough goal.”
Dr Peterson’s voice began to tremble as he said, “You need something. Because life is tough. It’s hard. You need something to get out of bed and fight for – against hell and for heaven – that’s something to fight for.”
He paused as the audience, now wiping tears from their own cheeks, applauded.
Dr Peterson is, in the words of New York Times columnist David Brooks, “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.”
His book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos, has sold almost three million copies – a figure just about unheard of.
We discussed Jordan Peterson’s best-selling book 12 Rules For Life on Mamamia Book Club. Post continues below.
His podcast, The Jordan B Peterson Podcast, has a cult following, along with his YouTube channel, which is edging towards two million subscribers.
It was on YouTube that the rise of Peterson took place, beginning with lectures about religion and personal growth and evolving into discussions about feminism and political correctness.
But our cultural discussion about Dr Peterson doesn’t seem to go much further than whether or not we agree with him.
We’re getting stuck there, planting ourselves firmly in one of two camps, stifling a conversation that has the potential to be a lot more interesting.
The more important question is what Jordan Peterson means. And, as he cried at the Sydney Opera House in front of his adherents, evoking the concepts of heaven and hell, it had never been more obvious.
This wasn’t a man delivering a speech. He was delivering a sermon.