The Shame of Cambridge

I couldn’t sleep last night. I kept tossing and turning, I could not find peace. As I woke up this morning I realized why – my worldview was shattered yesterday. As a teenager, my father was stationed at Lakenheath AFB. I lived in a little town, Reach, near Cambridge. My family became obsessed with the history and significance of Cambridge University. My parents would drive into town and we would walk through the quads of St. Johns College, Trinity College, and through the magnificent chapel at King’s College. My father would tell us stories of the days when C.S. Lewis taught there, or when Sir Isaac Newton was developing his theories. The history and significance of the place became stunning, even to my teenage self. We were sometimes lucky enough to see Stephen Hawking being pushed in his wheelchair between buildings. The sight of the young students wearing their black robes demonstrated how the traditional can be valued, even in the presence of cutting-edge ideas. My older brother, Lincoln, became so obsessed with Cambridge University he applied for Graduate School and was admitted. He got his Masters of Philosophy from Wolfson College, Cambridge. I idolized my brother as he gloated about punting on the Cam between classes and studying in historic buildings with the future leaders of nations.

When I completed my undergraduate degree, I decided I would give it a try. Unlikely as my admission was, I applied and got accepted for a M.A. in Environmental Development. I was even admitted to my favorite college, St. Johns. I was awe-struck. I could be going to the best university in the world! However, I also knew I would not be able to afford the tuition. I applied for the Gates Scholarship and amazingly made it to the final round. They flew me out to Annapolis, Maryland for the interview along with about 30 other applicants in other fields. I was doubtful that I, an insignificant and unremarkable girl, could actually have the chance of attending a school of such prestige. I had a lot of international research experience, had published with a professor, and done volunteer work with AIDS orphans. Yet how could any of that compare to the work of David Attenborough? I was very naive as a 23 year-old college student. I thought the interview went well, but I was surprised by their hostile reaction when I cited “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, or described some of my more conservative views on environmental policy. They seemed uncomfortable when I explained the influence my religious mission work in South Africa had on my worldview. These exchanges didn’t make me doubtful, my unique experience and perspective would surely be to my advantage. I knew academics wanted as many diverse viewpoints as they could get. My competitor was an intelligent young man, but he seemed shallow and inexperienced; I was fairly confident I had the advantage. I was shocked the next day to see I had not been chosen. I must have bombed the interview after all. I very well may have not been the right candidate. Who knows? I did not blame them for not getting the scholarship. I still don’t. I was lucky to be considered.

However, I was shattered. I was passionate about my field.  My dream was to move back to Africa and help encourage sustainable farming. I was hungry to have the “Cambridge experience”.  I could have gotten a loan, but coming from a frugal background, I knew I could not rationally justify the 100k in debt it would require.  My potential income with a Masters in Environmental Development would not be more than 50k a year. My fiance’ was supportive, but I could see the writing on the wall.  We wanted to eventually have a family, but knew I would have to fully devote myself to my career to pay that debt off. I chose not to attend.

Despite my disappointment, my admiration for Cambridge remained unaffected. I was sure the foundations were sound. After all, if Cambridge was corrupt, then every University had to be questioned. Founded in 1209, Cambridge was at the very foundation of academics. As we began our family, I always had that lingering voice in the back of my head telling me what I had given up. (My brother was an even louder voice, constantly rubbing it in my face). I could have gone to Cambridge! I could have made a difference. I could have learned at the feet of the greatest thinkers of our time. As time went by, I began to appreciate my role as a mother and see the irreplaceable role I was playing (my experience described here). The voice became more faint – but it has remained there still. As I read Winnie the Pooh to my children, I tell them about A.A. Milne and Cambridge. I have bought them Cambridge T-shirts and have posters on the wall- trying to brainwash them to their future. Cambridge was an ideal for me – a place of integrity and clear purpose. Until yesterday.

In the most unprofessional manner possible, Dr. Jordan Peterson’s offer to be a fellow at the School of Divinity was rescinded. In his March Q&A he seemed enthusiastic about the prospect of working with the scholars at Cambridge. I won’t repeat what has already explained by Dr. Peterson, but his intentions in studying at Cambridge were for the great benefit of millions who will listen to his Biblical lectures. His purpose was not to indoctrinate the youth to “dangerous” ideas. It was to be a cooperative effort, which would mutually benefit all parties, especially the students who would have the chance of learning with the most prominent intellectual of our time.

But no, he was too “controversial” for the a small and powerful group of people. Is there any chance Cambridge would now allow Darwin on their campus, or Erasmus?  Their work was very controversial for their day. Sorry to be crass, but I am so sick of this “controversial” crap. Jordan Peterson does NOT have controversial views – his most maligned views have been held by the majority of the population for all of human history.  I have listened to hundreds of hours of Jordan Peterson, if he had said anything racist, sexist, or homophobic I would have turned him off and never listened to him again. I am in a bi-racial marriage, I am a compassionate and sensitive person. I won’t follow the “unrighteous” or disingenuous. All these accusations are lies. (Here is a collection of short video clips showing his most “controversial” ideas)

But why? Why would what was once a welcoming home to progressive and traditional thinkers alike, now be refusing to accept Jordan Peterson? It is the duty of universities to educate their students and provide them with a varied and “dangerous” array of ideas. How can not one powerful administrator or professor have stood up and said, “NO, we will not miss out on the opportunity to have Dr. Peterson visit our University.” I can think of three reasons for their refusal to resist the calls of the mob:.

  1. These so-called intellectuals are lazy.  They have not taken the time to actually listen or read his works.  Surely this can’t be true of the elite of the elite at Cambridge? It is all a house of cards. This is difficult to admit because we put academics on a pedestal, but I am starting to realize that these elite are just as dumb and unmotivated as the rest of us.  They get on Twitter and accept the tweets of basement-dwellers as truth. They don’t do their research, they don’t fact-check idiotic claims found in media. The have gotten lazy and soft. They are no longer seeking the truth or advancing their own knowledge.  
  2. They are ideologues. They see the power and prestigious Jordan Peterson is gaining and are threatened. They want no diversity of thought.  They want to indoctrinate their students and shape them according to their own ideology.
  3. They are cowards.  I don’t blame the student union.  They are ignorant kids. It is the professors and administrators who are to blame.  If they are really allowing themselves to be controlled by the mob they are nothing but cowards. How can they sit by and watch their precious university, the crown of modern civilization, give in to the demands of spoiled children?  Is there not one man or woman of integrity or character left at Cambridge?

Cambridge has suddenly become an embarrassment in my eyes. Their allegiance to “diversity” and “inclusion” has led to a uniformity and intolerance I never expected. In a time where the group, government, and institution are given increasingly more power and prestige, we need to live our lives independent of their influence. I will not continue to idealize Cambridge to my children. I will now be more questioning of any theories or opinions Cambridge academics produce. Is this an over-reaction? Perhaps. But the problem with an institution breaking the confidence of their allegiants is we no longer know what we can trust. What we see is that in this action, they have shown their true colors. We can no longer base our presumptions of their past virtue because they have shown us their current corruption.

Some will say I am simply a Jordan Peterson Apologist. I do not agree with everything Jordan Peterson says, no one agrees with everything anyone says. Everyone offends, everyone makes mistakes, everyone has biases. If we reject people based on such things we can never educate ourselves. Our society will not progress. We will descend into tribal thinking and conflict. I suppose I should not be surprised, knowing the ideological state of our universities. For some reason I thought the “first would be the last.” I thought Cambridge was the principled ideal.

I am sorry for Dr. Peterson.  I strongly believe in what he is doing and believe he is a good man.  I appreciate his sacrifices as he attempts to help bring meaning and truth back to our society.  I believe he is doing God’s work and so I take solace in the Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God, and are called to His purpose.”   As I contemplate my shattered confidence in the once great University of Cambridge, I see that my “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor 2:5)  I wonder if any of the Professors of Divinity at Cambridge would agree? Somehow I doubt it.

-Allyson

Ps. If you are as appalled as I am, consider emailing Cambridge, tweeting your support or this article to JPB, or finding your own ways to share your displeasure. I would appreciate you sharing this with anyone who might be interested. Thank you for your support.

Artwork:King’s College and Clare College, Cambridge from the River Cam, William Westall, 1781

A Beginners Guide to Jordan Peterson: Clip Collection – Mental Health

Boras, John William Waterhouse, 1903

My mother is a psychotherapist so my childhood was full of psychology and analyzing. She is incredibly gifted in her work and has helped many people make positive change in their lives. Despite her good example of the positive potential of analysis, I have noticed that some friends/family with mental health issues seemed to make little progress in therapy. In the past I have even questioned the usefulness of psychological intervention. Discovering Dr. Jordan Peterson’s work changed my perspective. Jordan Peterson is not interested in ruminating on the past, he focuses on behavior modification and finding purpose in life. He has kindly put hundreds of hours of his University psychology lectures on Youtube to help those who struggle with, or are interested in, mental illness.  Watching his Maps of Meaning Lectures and Personality Lectures has helped me get a deeper understanding of my own psychology.  I have selected some short clips which have wonderful insight and practical tips. I hope they may whet your appetite for longer-form discussion on these topics.

1. Acceptance of Suffering: I shared this in my last blog post but it is too good to not include.  At the base of much of our unhappiness is an incorrect orientation – a view of the world as a place of happiness and peace.  Accepting the intrinsic difficulty of life is actually incredibly freeing, and may help relieve some of our anxiety or depression. (4:35)

2. Organizing your life for superior Mental Health:  He starts focusing on Depression but gives a lot of practical advice on how to maximize our time and build a successful and fulfilling life. There may be a bit of overlap with the previous video so you might want to cut out the last few minutes if you have heard it before.  (10:39)

3. Overcoming Anxiety: He lays out steps to overcome fear and anxiety by voluntarily facing it, in small and simple steps.  (5:36)

4.  Social Anxiety: There is a little overlap with the previous video but this clip focuses on social anxiety and how to act comfortably with others. (7:38)

5. Complexity and Mental Health: Jordan Peterson explains that sometimes we don’t, in fact, have a mental illness, we have too much complexity.  (2:34)

6. Overcoming Nihilism: He talks about accepting suffering and orienting ourselves properly in the world to find meaning. (8:24)

 
 

7. Those left behind after suicide: For some reason this was flagged as being inappropriate but go ahead and watch it because it is very powerful. JBP speaks personally about Suicide and his perspective on the idea “we could have done more”. (6:06)

8. Necessity of Negative Emotions: I posted this as well on last week blog but I think it is important to remember that there is a “positive” side of negative emotions and “negative” side of positive emotions. (3:54)

If you would like a good longer-form collection of clips on Depression and Mental Illness I suggest this or watch his lectures on his YouTube channel. https://m.youtube.com/user/JordanPetersonVideos

*I am going out of the country for a couple weeks but look forward to posting more content in Mid-March. Please share our blog, comment, or follow on Facebook to help keep us motivated over here:)