The five reasons we hurt ourselves (and others)

The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity
Five habits of the heart cause untold destruction and self-destruction.

Stephen Pinker’s wonderfully stimulating book The better angels of our nature calls them our ‘inner demons’:

‘A small number of quirks in our cognitive and emotional makeup give rise to a substantial proportion of avoidable human misery.’ 1. Humanists see them as products of evolution; Christians, as aspects of fallenness.

Below I have compared these Five Deadly Quirks with the Beatitudes, as taught by Christ. It’s interesting how directly Jesus addresses them; how prevalent they are; and how vital to fight them.

Deadly Quirk Beatitude
Overconfident of success in a fight; underestimating how bloody it will be.  Blessed are the poor in spirit … the meek … the peacemakers.
Striving for dominance and likely to get into fights for it to the loss of all. As above.
Seeking revenge by minimizing the hurt we caused and emphasising the hurt our opponents caused; and seeking perfect justice rather than compromise. Blessed are those who mourn … blessed are the peacemakers  … blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Overcoming a distaste for violence and acquiring a taste for it  Blessed are the pure in heart …  blessed are the peacemakers
Publicly supporting a belief even if we harbour private doubts because the rest of the crowd supports it. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness … blessed are the pure in heart … blessed are you when all people hate you and revile your name as evil because of me.
Two very big ideas
'A colourful life is an act of worship'
  1. Better Angels, p 688

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