Peterson would sometimes forward Szemberg emails he had received from viewers of the series. “A young man from Italy wrote in, saying, ‘I was about to commit suicide. I heard your lecture. And I’m going to live.’ The ability that [Peterson] has to speak to those who feel themselves at the end of the line, and to tell them: ‘There is a way for you to regroup and to rethink yourself and be productive and live a good life.’ That’s real. That’s not his imagination. The response that he gets proves how important it is for there to be someone who is believable when he says, ‘You can do it.’”
After I spoke with dozens of his followers, it was clear that his was not a message addressed solely to white men, angry or otherwise, but to those of us—and I can’t think of anyone to whom this doesn’t apply—who needed to hear from a credible voice that though we are fated to die, and to suffer, and fail, and do harm to ourselves, and to others, that a pathway to a nobler life is within reach.