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The Nagging Conscience

Feeling Guilty Our Subconscience Reminder

Posted on April 09,2008

The Conscience: Also known as, our Moral Compass, is our personal guide for living. It is what keeps the thumb off the butcher's scales whenever he weighs your meat. Whenever we do mess up, it is what will not let us forget about it. Every culture has a sense of actions that are acceptable and those that are not. Each culture has its own set of rules that reflect their culture, but there is also unanimity throughout most cultures about killing, stealing, cheating, and lying. A trustworthy citizen in any culture is a person who follows the rules of that culture. The conscience lets us know when we are violating a cultural rule.

Willing Obedience: We learn these cultural rules in childhood. The lessons are indelibly committed to our sub-conscience and become the basis for guiding us throughout our life. We normally willingly adhere to these rules because it is obedience to these rules that make us acceptable to the rest of our culture. Conformity to rules that govern behavior is the rock bed foundation of a society. There are also rewards for conformity. You do not spend time in jail, and you are trusted. Other rewards are peace of mind, and that satisfaction that your culture respects you. An ostracized person is a lonely person.

Rule Changes: Time and progress make it necessary to change cultural rules. Normally, one of our stages in maturing is our raucous years. This is the period between our mid-teens to our mid-twenties. Our late twenties and thirties are a mellowing period, a period when we start paying more attention to our conscience. A cohesive society will only allow those who can look retrospectively at the culture to change any rules, not our rebellious and idealistic young.

The Rules: In the United States, other than conscience, the rules come in the form of laws. All laws seek to curb basic instincts or variations of these instincts, and control the big four: lying, cheating, killing, and stealing. The laws seek retribution from those who violate the rules. Retribution may be in the form of a fine, jail, or prison.

The Incorrigibles: Incorrigibles are those who cannot live within the bounds set forth by the culture or society. The ones who cannot conform by fines and short jail terms must finally be isolated to protect society from them.

Right and Wrong: Right is complying with the rules of the culture. Wrong is activity outside those rules. Our conscience is rooted in faith, while our laws are secular. Faith enforces conscience with the belief in life after death. Living a good life gets you Heaven, living a life outside of the boundaries gets you Hell. Faith is a powerful incentive to live according to its teachings. Most of the religious rules parallel the secular rules they just differ in enforcement. Secular enforcement offers no incentive to obey the rules, but instead offers punishment for their violation. Fear of 'getting caught' may be a deterrent to some, but also provides the incentive to be smarter than the cops. Outsmarting the cops can mean big payoffs as well as bragging rights among peers.

Difference: Getting away with a crime and its potential reward is the real attraction for criminals. But not so for a person of faith, God watches all of our moves, there is no hope of getting away with anything. To help with a nagging conscience, most people try justifying their actions. But in the end, there is no justification that stops the nagging. This is the advantage that faith and conscience have in maintaining our society. Repenting can save a person from damnation (and stop the nagging). As they say, confession is good for the soul. But redemption can only occur if our conscience leads us to repent.

Reservoir of Goodness: More and more, we see shortcuts to riches taken. The moneylenders are greedy, the manufacturers are greedy, and the greed even extends to our healthcare system. No Pollyanna here, because I am aware that we have always had greedy people. It is the scope of increasing greed that I am referring to. The reservoir of goodness once held by the American People is evaporating. White-collar crime is profitable. A shady businessperson can scam millions and receive only a few years in jail. It makes for a successful effort. His exploits do not go unnoticed. Our kids no longer have a business model to admire. All they see is the opportunity to get rich. The incentives for a young person to persevere and succeed with innovation and hard work are disappearing. Bookkeeping gimmicks, cheapening product for more profit, importing cheap labor, and outsourcing to foreign countries is the hallmark of the modern American business.

The Missing Conscience: What has happened to our nagging conscience? The problem started when we decided that we no longer wanted God in the classroom. We banned prayer from the public square and along with it, our ethics. Right and wrong are no longer distinguishable from each other. The consequences of raising a generation without a moral compass, or no definition of right and wrong are at our doorstep. And yet, we want to blame others for the avarice and greed we see today. We justified 'separation of church and state' by defining a morning prayer in school was somehow state sponsored religion. Finding our way back will be a difficult road to follow.

Food Supply at Risk: Tainted peanut butter, diseased animals slaughtered, poisoned pet food, and dirty canneries have all been in the news lately. Not all of the food problems are because of corporate greed. Firms with employees who have no interest in their job, and only wanting that paycheck causes a lot of the careless mistakes in our American businesses. These employees demonstrate the need for a foundation in right and wrong. Their careless actions mean nothing to them without the help of a caring conscience. The Government cannot hire enough inspectors to ensure the safety of our food products. We have to trust these industries or revert to raising and butchering animals at home. Trust is a large part of our society. But if we continue to raise untrustworthy kids, the future does indeed look grim.

Helpless Government: When the population no longer cares about ethics, fielding an army of police is the only response available. Where will our rights be then? Already we have to maintain police in our schools to control the violence. We are searched before we can attend a sporting event. Whatever is on your computer can become public property. Telephone calls are not private. It is laughable to hear the groups protesting the loss of their rights. Those same people do not want God in the classroom.

Preaching? No! We must recognize that faith has a prominent place in our society. I will close with this thought. Whenever I attended school, during the morning invocation everyone shut their mouth. Even the school bad ass had sense enough to recognize that there was something greater than he was. Respect for God and not religious fervor kept our traps shut as we stood in silence during the prayer. Learning respect can be a humbling experience.



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