“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” ~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird …
So often in our cultures and societies, we see others doing things that they know are wrong and should not be doing, just to fit in, be accepted, or because they feel that others expect them to do those things. But this is a perilous gamble, as each of our moral compasses can only guide our vessels, and not the vessels of our fellow man. This means that if we let the input of others affect our conscience decisions, we put our own internal peace and serenity at grave risk. And one of the scariest realities about this is that when we are dealing with our internal conflicts, often times we allow ourselves to justify what we have done by adjusting our consciences to make the action okay; not to mention that many of those times we are not even aware that we are rationalizing our decisions to make them seem acceptable even though deep down we know that they are not. But there is no gray area when it comes to our consciences, or at least there should not be.
When we really get to looking at it, our consciences are not something that we can adjust or change, and ignoring them only leaves us feeling confused, uncertain, and lost. And in the end, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that something that we know is wrong, is actually right, we will not be able to change the feelings of remorse, guilt, and shame that stain our hearts from acting against our conscience.
So why is it so hard for us to follow our conscience? We know it guides us and keeps us on the path of righteousness, and that it helps us to live our lives with a deep sense of peace and joy, yet we often continue to seek to ignore the truth it speaks. Perhaps it is a result of the influence of our peers, or our fear of change or of stepping outside of the safety of what we know. Maybe it is the uncertainty of the unknown, or inability to see the larger picture in life. However, regardless of what pressure we are faced with or difficulties we perceive, the final choice of whether or not to follow our conscience lies on us, and the final decision to accept what it tells us lies with us as well.
Do not silence the silent voice within you that speaks to you by convincing yourself that you must think or act contrary to what your heart tells you because others think or act in such a way, or that since you have already done wrong, doing so again will have zero net effect. Our conscience should never abide by majority rule; as singular beings, we are responsible for ourselves–no one else has to answer for our decisions. Therefore, we should not question whether we are thinking or acting differently, but rather whether or not we are following what we know in our heart and soul to be true and right.
Take some time to really listen to what your conscience has to say to.
Questions to consider:
What are some of the pressures that weigh against us following our consciences?
Why is it so easy sometimes to just go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing, whether we agree with it or not?
How might you be sure that you keep yourself open to the messages that your conscience is sending you?
For further thought:
“Conscience, as a mentor, the guide and compass of every act, leads ever to happiness. When the individual can stay alone with his or her conscience and get its approval, without knowing force or specious knowledge, then he or she begins to know what real happiness is.” ~ William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness