Dragons Monsters and Men: Episode 4 Review

Luke Rexing, Contributor

The final episode in the Dragons, Monsters and Men series is titled Be Great. Peterson ties together some of the ideas that he covered in the previous episodes, and uses those ideals as a guide. The theme of this episode is that life is not easy. It was never meant to be easy, but rather the opposite. He says

“Life is characterized by a fair amount of suffering, and tragedy tainted by malevolence.”

— Jordan B. Peterson

It is corrupt, difficult, and oftentimes unbearable. However, this should not stop you from bearing your cross while walking uphill. 

People often look to find something that will give them enough drive to get up and do something. However, many fall subordinate to the idea of happiness. They believe that the pursuit of happiness will be the guide to leading a significant life. This is not necessarily true, as it depends on the definition of happiness. Humans are prone to seeking short term pleasure in the sacrifice of their future selves. Peterson calls this “hedonistic pleasure seeking.” This is not a good game to play if your goal is to find something worthwhile. Additionally, everybody knows that this is not a good path to follow, yet everybody falls victim to instant gratification. This is not permanently catastrophic, as you should allow yourself to experiment. Peterson adds “Do not wall yourself away from experimentation.” But do not let yourself become a victim of the feedback loop to hell. 

So if not happiness, then what should a person pursue? Meaning. But some things mean different things to different people, so where can one find meaning? A good place to start is by taking care of yourself and those around you. Specifically, be there for your family. If you have kids, they should be your number one priority. If you have parents and live away from home, check in on them, go have dinner with them. If you have an intimate relationship with someone, make sacrifices for them. The same goes for friendships. Have conversations with people and seek the truth. Speak your mind and allow them to speak theirs. None of this would be possible if you don’t take care of yourself, so care for yourself as you would care for someone else. Make sacrifices for your wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of those who you truly care about. This idea then extends into your civic engagement. Be the best you can be in your workplace. Be the best dishwasher, be the best intern, be the best delivery driver that your company has ever hired. 

You may ask “why should I put my limited emotional capital into that?” Peterson answers with a rhetorical question: What else better is there to do? Literally, there is nothing else better that you could do. Maybe down the line you could have a much better job, so you fantasize about that. You could have a better house, so you fantasize about that. You could have skipped work to bet on cornhole tournaments, so you fantasize about that. And then you are paralyzed by your fantasies. Instead of actually doing anything, even if it was inspired by hedonistic tendencies, you do nothing because you wonder about the things that you could have done differently. Nonetheless, you should choose to make the best of what is in front of you. After all, it is the best path forward. 

The first half of this episode is primarily speaking to younger people. Young people now have little direction, as they are told to always follow what makes them happy, and to do the things that make them “feel good.” This is a downfall of modern liberal guidance. It is a veil of compassion that covers a lack of real encouragement. People will say things to young people like “you are just fine the way you are!” In truth, young people are the complete opposite. They are not “fine the way they are”, but rather they have so much potential that is being confined from the world simply because of that “feel good” statement. 

Being a 21 year old student, I am not only aware that I do not know everything, but also that I know pretty much nothing (and there is a big difference between the two). I have ideals and values, but comparing the amount of knowledge that I have acquired to the amount of knowledge that exists, I estimate that the number is exceptionally close to zero. Nevertheless, this idea is not something that I regard as inadequate to navigate the world. Instead, I see it as an endless opportunity to seek out what I find interesting. Endless opportunities to be my best. The hard part is searching for what that is. I’ll start with doing the things that need to be done despite difficulty (within reason, as I will not become a social justice warrior), and taking care of the people closest to me. 

The rest of the episode covers differences between men and women, and the sense of having a good family. There were some amazing points that are not as intertwined with life of a student, but here are some additional ideas from the episode worth thinking about:

  1. A society has to worship the mother and the infant
  2. Paradise is a walled garden
    1. The man puts up the walls, the woman tends the garden, and the children play within it
  3. There are no no-risk pathways
  4. The worst type of punishment is punishment for virtue
  5. Whatever children take they give back in spades

Jordan Peterson is truly an inspiration to me. I have learned a lot from him, and plan to continue doing so. The Dragons, Monsters, and Men series has a lot of good information, and I am glad that I now have a summary of it all. However, for my next JBP article, I want to try something new. I want to comb through my brain and come up with questions that I have not heard answered, and expand on why I want them answered. Ideally, I can find the right questions, and in turn be able to answer them myself. In a world with endless information I see near endless confusion. Despite this, Peterson is helping me develop the bedrock that I want to build my life upon. My goal for this review series was to help someone in some way or another, even if it was incremental. If you stayed with me through the series, or found any part of it helpful, leave a comment! I would love to hear from you. Thank you for reading, and remember to share this article if it resonates with you!