I have been reflecting on what Solzhenitsyn said about the dividing line within our hearts between good and evil.
The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.
There is another line that goes through our hearts, that between the liberal and the conservative. I was reminded of this line by what Douglas Murray said in his conversation with Brett Weinstein. The political realm lies in a balance between reforming abuses, and the capacity to see the abuses and the need for reforms, with the ability to pay for the reforms, to adopt new ideas of justice, and to resist excessive compassion.
It is in the weakening of resistance to excessive compassion that is causing society to disintegrate, or to “deliquesce” to use a word I last saw in an issue of The Idler back in the 1980s; to disintegrate from the inside out.
It is obvious to me, as a conservative in this sense, that we have swung too far over into a land of therapeutic remediation of all previous offences against the equal dignity. of people and cultures. The BLM ideology, “whiteness” as a spiritual disease, the endless guilt tripping over Indian residential schools, the entire settlement of North America by white people: each and all are held to be examples of the offence that white people – as whites- have wrought against natives and Africans. It will not be long before punctuality, hard work and discipline are held to be examples of sick white culture.
Back in the 1990s I attended some weekend sessions taught by people from the Diamond Heart school of philosophical inqury. As a discipline it had much to recommend it, including especially its central idea that it was not a therapy: it was not trying to cure you or your condition. At some point in a session we were talking about compassion. One of the first ideas that you get in these kinds of schools is that you must first have some compassion for yourself if you are to have compassion for others. Yet our class leader immediately took up a phrase I used when I said some people need the “boot of compassion”. She agreed. Compassion is not only open-hearted listening. It actually involves taking steps to get people off their addictive or self destrctive behaviours.ld just as well be expressed by the admonition “get a grip”.
I am suggesting that part of the problem is that it is becoming morally impossible to tell people to get a grip. A grip on reality, a grip on their addictions, a grip on their tendency to self-pity, and a grip on their inability to look themselves in the mirror and see that what needs improvng is not society but themselves.
In short, the boot of compassion is needed at all levels of discourse.
I think that most of what Jordan Peterson has been aiming at is a purposeful life. This is not the same as a the boot of compassion, but the boot of compassion is a good place to start the voyage.