I was watching a university class the other day with Jordan Peterson, a Professor of Psychology from the University of Toronto. He has a lot of amazing videos on YouTube, teaching meaning with everything from Jung to Nietzsche, from Harry Potter to the Bible.
There are also a number of videos of him dissecting the movie Pinocchio. One point that caught my fancy was about Pinocchio being distracted from going to school by the Fox and the Cat. The first time, they seduce him with the idea of riches. If I remember correctly, in the original Carlo Collodi book, they get him to plant coins he’s meant to give his father in a plowed field. Later, they dig the coins out and Pinocchio is ruined.
We’ll follow more the movie, though, which is where Peterson’s emphasis lies. In it, Pinocchio is taken to Stromboli’s puppet theater where he becomes the string-less star, making a lot of money (for Stromboli). He narrowly escapes from this situation, thanks to the Blue Fairy (and lots of tears), and as he decidedly sets out for home and school again, he meets up a second time with the Fox and Cat.
This second time, though, the Fox and Cat change tactics. They tell him he looks tired, that his life has been tough, that he could use a vacation. In short, they tell him he’s a victim.
Jordan’s fascinating point is that all of us have a responsibility to the greater good to help others evolve. We are all meant to “go to school” and to eventually “become a real boy.” If you’re lazy, on the other hand, or indifferent, or just plain selfish, you probably won’t fulfill your responsibility, so you need a good excuse. You need to keep telling yourself (and anyone who will listen) that you’re the victim.
Because the minute you start serving others and participating in the betterment of society, something strange happens. You don’t complain about the world anymore.
Try it and see.