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.
|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.|