The mystery of human nature: the determined evil-doer

A party-political article by Andrew Klavan entitled Shame incidentally gave a splendid picture of one of the key problems of our age (and of every corrupt age):

Over the course of time, I have seen many people ruin and waste their lives. Good people, smart people, talented people who sacrificed the gift of existence to drugs, alcohol, bitterness, self-abuse, fear, and anger. In every case, always, I felt the root cause was unacknowledged shame.

At some point, these people had come to confront — as we all must — their cowardice, their weakness, their dishonesty, or their foolishness. Unable to accept the pain of an honest assessment of their brokenness, they turned their eyes away and practiced denial instead. In an attempt to avoid the agony of their shame indefinitely, they created whole new philosophies of life. If, for instance, they had backed down when they should have stood up, they declared nothing was worth fighting for. If they lied when they should’ve spoken true, they declared truth was an illusion. If they succumbed to desire when they should have resisted, they decided continence was a game for puritans and fools.

In order to feel justified within this new philosophy, they not only had to continue in the bad behavior that shamed them in the first place, they had to condemn any good behavior that held the mirror up to their secret self-disgust. This always involved them in blatant self-contradiction. The person who believed there was no truth would accuse others of lying. The person who said all sexual behavior should be accepted would declare chastity unacceptable. The person who believed tolerance was the highest value would find those who disagreed intolerable.

Ultimately their stratagems of self-deception destroyed their integrity, and their hidden shame festered and ate away…  well, everything; the whole joy of living.

This really does seem to be  a feature of our times.  Who cannot name various bold, determined people, utterly set on doing some mad and evil thing, and equally determined to ensure that no-one may express even the mildest opposition without risk to their reputation, their property, their livelihood or even their liberty?  The reader will be able to give his own examples of this kind of conduct. 

It affects Christians.  Indeed it accounts for the bitter hostility towards Christians and Christianity in the mass media, which conditions the reflexes of most ordinary people.   The author has the current round of Moslem violent protests in mind, and the craven attitude of the media towards them, when he writes:

The people who booed the God of love, now rush to the defense of a hateful Allah. The people who p***** on the Christ of redemption, now bewail the hurt feelings of a damnable Islam.

But there are so many examples one might mention. 

Probably few of us, reading this, have any temptation to this soul-destroying behaviour, because few of us have the power to do so.  But it is an evil, and we need to remember that behind these people is, as ever, a violated conscience.  It is pathetic, therefore, to accept the demands of these people; for they will hold us in contempt for doing so.  They know, and we know, that what they demand is wrong.   We must have the courage to say so, clearly.  They may send us to prison for doing so.  They will deny that is their reason for doing so.  But they will respect us for it.

7 Responses to “The mystery of human nature: the determined evil-doer”


  1. Stuart

    That “Shame” piece was very powerful and insightful.

  2. Roger Pearse

    It was, wasn’t it. Certainly worth highlighting, I thought. And don’t we see so much of that behaviour these days?

  3. Stuart

    Yes we do. I’ve never come across this so succinctly put.

    It’s one of those pieces that makes you think. “That is so true and seems obvious now I’ve read it”

    I’m linking to this post tomorrow.

  4. Maureen

    Well, the worst off won’t “respect” us consciously. But they will get to encounter Truth through us, and have a moment of seeing things in a less cockeyed way. This could help them change in the future, although it’s unlikely that they’ll have a Damascus moment right then. (Though of course people do have sudden realizations also.)

    But playing along with people’s delusions does them no good.

  5. Roger Pearse

    Exactly. Tertullian was led to convert by seeing Christians thrown to the lions. Those who burned a pinch of incense to Caesar got a contemptuous toleration. Those who refused got martyrdom, glory, and converted their persecutors.

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