“Ideas have consequences.” Many people are familiar with that profound observation by Richard Weaver.
Now a popular Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson, has made a parallel observation, a variation from Carl Jung’s original, “People don’t have ideas, ideas have people!” Peterson tweaks it, “You don’t have ideas; ideas have you!” He goes on to explain.
When we use the suffix “ist” (as in “I’m a socialist,” communist, humanist) we seem to think we are possessing those ideas. No, Peterson argues, we are the “tools” of those ideas; they possess and use us for their purposes. He says if we want to be a tool of the idea, that’s OK, but we need to know where the idea is leading. And, I would add, we also need to know where the idea is coming from.
Do we really want to live where the idea is taking us? Do we understand the worldview that has generated the idea in the first place?
Peterson challenges us to examine ideas to see if we want to use them and be owned by them.
Every human needs to ask several questions about any idea you confront:
- What is its source?
- Historically, where did it come from?
- What worldview is driving it?
- What will it produce? (Ideas have consequences!)
- What kind of behavior will come from it? What kind of society will it lead to?
- Where will this idea take me? Is it a place I really want to go?
- Does this idea comport with reality?
Perhaps ideas do have us, but not without our volition. We allow ideas to enter our minds and hearts. Here’s the question: Do we allow the ideas in after reflection, or without reflection?
To see Peterson’s argument, view this ninety second video.
- Darrow Miller
NOTE: “Ideas have consequences” is one of the themes Darrow explores in his book, Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures. The third edition is set to release September 6.
Here’s an endorsement from Dr. Brian Fikkert, President and Founder of the Chalmers Center, Professor of Economics and Community Development at Covenant College, and co-author of When Helping Hurts.
“Darrow Miller is one of the most influential people in my life. And one of the primary ways he has impacted me is through this classic book. In fact, the older I get, the more I can see the wisdom Darrow has packed into every page. I urge you to take up and read.”
Go here for a reduced pre-release rate of Discipling Nations!