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12 Rules for Life

12 Rules for Life

March 27, 2019 11:21 pmComments are Disabled

In protest of the New Zealand bookshop that banned the book after the horrific Mosque shooting two weeks ago (though, strangely, it failed to ban Mein Kampf), I went ahead and bought it and started to read it. 12 Rules for Life isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it is in a genre I don’t usually even consider reading: Call it self-help meets moral psychology, with a healthy dose of Greek and Christian mythology mixed in. This alone makes it interesting. Of the three rules I’ve read so far (“Stand up straight with your shoulders back”; “Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping”; “Make friends with people who want the best for you”) they are all rather practical advice, supported by a mix of anecdotal, literary, mythological and scientific evidence.

I understand why people find the author so ‘controversial’ — he flatly rejects and in some cases slays sacred cows of liberal academia, from the blank slate to the idea of gender as a social construct. He frequently references the foundational Western myths, though is quick to point out that other cultures share universal beliefs and values as well. He accepts the existence of various social hierarchies evolved out of millions of years of conflict and reproductive competition, and provides some possible scientific explanations–that have been discussed and debated elsewhere, notably by Steven Pinker–why these hierarchies might exist.

However, I have yet to get to the chapter where he advocates the slaughter of innocent Muslims in their house of worship. No doubt when I reach that part, I will understand why a bookstore saw fit to ban the book. In the meantime, though, I’m enjoying the jolt of self awareness I get thinking about various times in my life I have followed these 12 Rules, and other times I have failed. In many ways the rules parallel my own growing list of rules, and have also given me more to think about.

No doubt this attempt at “de-platforming” the author has resulted in more sales; when will people learn that books don’t kill people, people kill people?

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