Jean Vanier (1928-2019): More Human
Jean Vanier—philosopher and founder of the L’Arche community—has died, aged 90. Just after his 90th birthday in September last year, he posted this video about his “10 rules for life to become more human”. It has never been clear to me whether the title was intended to invoke Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life”, but then as now, I find the contrast between the two lists both amusing and illuminating. If Peterson wants men to be more manly—in a spectacularly narrow sense of the word—Vanier wants men and women to be more human. Peterson would have us stand up straight, make friends with those who want the best for us, and pet a cat: Vanier encourages us to contemplate our fragility and finitude, to relate to others not just for our sakes but also for theirs. And, as if in response to Peterson’s emphasis on masculinity, Vanier also gently interrogates men’s need for power and success, reminding us that “love is linked to weakness”.
The obituaries and tributes have already come pouring: instead of attempting to write about the great man, the School would like to listen again to what Vanier has to say about being human.