Is it too late to grow a conscience?
Is it too late to grow a conscience?
by Roland Michel Tremblay
As humanity, do we have a conscience? Sometimes it could be opened to debate as we can easily point out many human beings who do not appear to have one at all. Mostly politicians, religious leaders, management and all sorts of criminals. Maybe none of them require a conscience to reach ultimate power and wealth. What about us, is it too late to develop a conscience?
This last decade will be remembered and talked about in history, perhaps as much if not more than both first world wars. We appear to have avoided another imminent world war and another Hitler, all made possible by so-called terrorism. We nearly lost all our rights and there are still talks about changing the Constitution. Some financial sharks got away with all our money and here comes a second great depression crowned with Swine Flu. Global warming, famines, genocides, the list goes on. This is the beginning of the new millennium, quite a regression for humanity.
The months leading to the American presidential elections last year were frantic, we all went wild fighting, to do anything to stop what we thought was happening, the worst case scenario for humanity. And we said things that today certainly could appear quite extreme. Now we have calmed down, even though all these events are still developing and we are far from finding lasting solutions. We have however the time to reflect on this period, and we wonder: what happened, or more exactly, what is it that we were actually fighting against? Why do we feel we have avoided the worst case scenario?
I just watched a powerful film called “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” with Maggie Smith (1969), where a teacher with fascist tendencies from Edinburgh led one of her students to her death in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and still could not see what she had done. And now I am wondering, what is it again that we all wrote and said while we were in the thick of it last year, and what exactly were the consequences of such fuelled political discourses?
To be honest I am a bit afraid to read again all those articles I have written in the last two years, I’m hoping I was not as extreme as I remember. I hope there has not been any consequence to what I felt at the time was like entertainment, for me anyway as I never took myself that seriously to begin with.
Have I caused the death of anyone in the last year through writing inflamed stuff in the heat of the moment? It does not really matter, or does it? Should one only write about peace and love, beauty and truth, moral and ethical things? Should journalists be more positive and suddenly it will be reflected back into human behaviour? Or would no one read such positive articles mostly talking about happiness and joy?
The elevator for the heavens just arrived on the ground floor with one apple tree within, packed with the brightest flowers ever and all the saints of all souls. And the smell, as divine as god itself. Are you hungry for sins or redemption? A mea culpa is bound to come in at some point, for those who still have a soul. In short, is it too late to develop a conscience? One way or another, maybe we cannot win.
Some people have a conscience, it is clear, peaceful, they are generally nice people, and whether they should have a need for a conscience is a good question. Some others are cruel by nature, they could be described as monsters, and yet, they have no regret and no remorse. Can we say they have no conscience then?
Easy to classify them as psychopaths, or people with a soul who have no choice but to emulate the psychopathic behaviour of their leaders in order to climb the social hierarchy. But what if they are just people like you and I? So easily we move from being good people to becoming evil when the right circumstances present themselves. Those circumstances don’t even need to become extreme before we prove to be bad apples. Survival is a strong human instinct, you never know where it will lead you in the end.
So what can we make of it? Do we have a conscience or not, if many can suppress it at will and act as if they had none? Who needs a conscience in this world anyway. We all know god never existed, or is long dead by now. I wonder, or am I jumping the gun? The very one pointed at your head, forcing you to believe, to be what you are not and will never be. Faith is everything nowadays, as it always was, at gunpoint.
It seems to me that the only ones who still have a conscience these days are Catholics, and I am not talking about their religious leaders. I’m joking of course, as I always did, but it leads to what I want to say. It seems to me that people only have a conscience if it has been pre-programmed in their mind, whether as a child or at some turning point in their life, most likely once they discover a rehabilitation programme or some religious or new age movement along the way.
Otherwise, what need do we have for a conscience? I feel that if we were all left to our own devices, as animals, none of us would have a conscience. At that point you can only have a conscience by convention, if we decided that somehow you should have one implanted within your mind through teachings, motherly talks, nanny states’ discourses, probation officers and other methods of conditioning.
I’m afraid, I have a conscience, a powerful one too. I cannot allow myself to intentionally hurt another in any way, be it an animal, a human being or even an insect (often I am unable to make the distinction between those three). I have to admit that perhaps the thought of being good would never have occurred to me if I had not been told it was wrong to be bad.
I could have perhaps understood it by myself, witnessing how much I suffered when people hurt me. I may then have thought it was a bad idea to hurt in return or to hurt others at all. That sums me up. History and our daily existence however tell us that usually if someone hurts you, you hurt them back, and even, you don’t care anymore and you can start hurting everyone else as a result, in some great chain reaction.
When some 20 so-called terrorists attacked New York and killed something like 3,000 of our citizens, we instantly went to war for a decade at least, destroying a few countries in the process and killing over a million people. That is one way of responding to it, which never required a conscience. Or will we live to regret it? I suppose we always do overreact in any such situation, so ready we are to go to war on any pretext, especially personal wars on an individual basis.
I have to admit, I fought against my conscience. My books and articles are filled with hurting stuff, but in real life you would have to search deep to find any occurrence of me hurting anyone, I am such a gentle soul. I wish I had no conscience at all, it would have helped me a great deal to survive the world we live in.
And yet perhaps the Third World War will finally offer me on a platter my secret wish I can’t even admit to myself, this wish to kill people on a massive scale. To drop a nuclear bomb over a populated area and in one time swoop annihilate millions of them, I’m thinking of Iran. I am only being ironic here in order to make a point, but it is true that in war soldiers get to love to kill, and cheer each others as they annihilate villages and entire cities. How one nuclear bomb could end this war right now, conscience is far gone by then.
Many feel like this is justified and go on to do just that. Whilst I can’t even conceptualise how I would live with myself if I thought I had caused the death of one single human being, even indirectly or accidentally. In fact, I could not live with my conscience if I had caused someone to lose his or her job. I would be a very bad manager indeed, I could not make the big decisions. I would always try to salvage it without anyone being hurt. As I am a fool, I believe I could achieve it somehow, it will be my downfall.
The truth, you might not like it, but sometimes you have to make the big decisions and hurt people. Pressure from your superiors, only acceptable solution when the person is obviously highly incompetent, whatever else you could use to ease your conscience. And if you can justify it, and somehow you can always justify it, you can be as cruel as required in order to achieve whatever goal you have set for yourself or that others have set for you. Great news, you can learn to be cruel and live happily ever after with your clear conscience, as it was necessary or you had no choice, as simple as that.
Where would this world be without a conscience? I reckon we would all be at war, assuming we would not have self-destruct by now. Oh, but we are at war. I can understand society, governments and religions would feel it important for us all to have a conscience, and work hard building up one in a way which would be acceptable to them all, bringing some sort of peace and acceptation of others, some order, at the very least some resemblance of a tolerance. All in some sort of huge mixed signals kind of machine, where being at war at the same time is normal and essential, and messages of hate are common place.
How have you been programmed to react in any circumstance? For example, when you come across a gay couple or a criminal stealing a mobile phone to support a drug addiction. What about a soldier who enjoys killing 10,000 people without regret or remorse, proud of himself as he served his country as a hero?
When is it that your conscience kicks in? Why is it not kicking in faster than when your next door neighbour from hell gives you a hard time (when it concerns you more directly)? When do you decide that someone is a monster and that he or she needs to be put in prison or executed? Everything is so relative, whilst laws are constantly changing.
Due to propaganda and PR campaigns, I’m not sure where any of us stand when confronted with wars, cruelty like torture, unacceptable behaviour and conscience. Is it all just conventions and it changes with the government, the centuries, with the decades even, and who decides what is acceptable or not?
I am uneasy with the concepts of guilt, remorse and conscience. I feel it is unnatural, that somehow it was implanted inside of me, I feel the need to fight it. Until I can be what I feel I ought to be, a cold bloody killer. Or a nice guy if I can somehow learn that I don’t like being hurt, and so I should not cause pain if I can avoid it, and I should not invent endless justifications for it.
It is just not acceptable if we want any kind of liveable society where breathing is permissible and not fired upon. Don’t let that dog foul on the pavement, it is a crime, we all know you are a criminal deep down. You need to be punished, we all need to be punished for anything we do, and even think.
I am glad I have a conscience even if I was manipulated into acquiring it. At the end of the day everyone deserves a break and it would be nice if this world would be a happy one where everyone could live in total happiness and freedom, without it being a fake happiness obliged upon us by any authority. Being nice naturally instead of being obliged to, must bring more happiness than frustrations that will need to be vented at some point.
Humankind invented conscience, quite early on actually, considering biblical books, and yet, I guess it was a good invention, even though they pushed it to the limits of the unacceptable by conditioning us into falling in line. That kind of conscience is not acceptable as it does not come from us, it was imposed upon us, and then it does not make us better people.
Not many are good Christians in this world. If you are going to be that kind of extreme Christian, you might as well be a suicide bomber, since the result will be the same, as many people would most probably die as a result. Speeches and words are often more powerful than physical violence on this planet. One always has to measure what he or she says, especially if they know their words are far reaching, like when they are part of the mass media machine we have all come to distrust in recent years. It has a real impact, and often it is impossible to measure.
Many talking in such terms as to make you believe that something that cannot be right is actually acceptable, are people taking advantage of others, people who have no conscience of their own. If you only have a conscience because you are afraid of God or undue consequences from the law or any sort of authority, then this is a world where freedom simply does not exist, it is too high a price to pay.
It would be better to develop your own personal
conscience based upon
your own personal experience, as in: “Would you like others to do to you what you do to others?” Then I would prefer to know where I stand. I would know that you have no conscience, that you are prepared to do anything to destroy me, and then I could forget my own conscience and destroy you before you destroy me. Of course as I do have a conscience, I would simply let you win and be gone. How hurtful would it be to me to play your mind games for a while until you succeed in annihilating me, I can’t even describe.
I feel sorry for the people who have a strong conscience, they are at risk of being hurt so badly by people who have no conscience at all, or who can justify the conscience they have. Life would be much easier if none of us had any conscience, but then the world would cease to exist. It would be nice if we all had the same level or standard of conscience, then it would be levelled, and we would all stand a chance for survival. As it is not the case, sometimes we have to put our conscience aside and fight back, only in self-defence though, as far as our conscience will allow it.
Sometimes I wonder if it is worth to have a conscience if others don’t have one. It sorts of cancels your own conscience, make you wonder why you should have one at all if no one else has. If you have a conscience, you will have to accept people hurting you badly and you will not be able to retaliate or take revenge, you will essentially die a martyr, a badly hurt human being wondering about the unfairness and injustice of this world.
Even the government and the law will seem to be against you, against us acting like human beings in search for happiness, when even most authorities show no conscience, and you could never hope that eventually they will grow one. You can only fight back or be grateful for the ones along the way with a conscience who will help you and support you throughout your struggles against people without a conscience. Just make sure they are not in the business of taking advantage of you in your time of weakness.
Many are preying on us and taking advantage of our good nature, our misplaced conscience. This is what most charities are about, all your money goes to pay the high salaries of those executives pretending to help the world whilst running their charities like profitable corporations. When is it last time you actually helped a dying African? Are you sure you did help that dying African in the end? I would not bet on it. Corruption is everywhere, and God is too often used as an excuse to justify any atrocity, any genocide.
In any case I feel you’d be better off without a conscience. Until at least every single human being on the planet, every single government, every single religious authority and every member of any management do grow a conscience. Then it might be worth reconsidering developing one yourself.
At this time not many of our leaders have a conscience, they have proven that time and time again, it is human nature. I suggest we do not follow their advice that we should develop a conscience whilst their own rules for us do not apply to them. It makes it too easy for them to control us a whole. Send that elevator back to the heavens without any of us within it, we have all sin, at any rate we are already beyond salvation according to their definition, it cannot ne otherwise.
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free. We still need to fight for our freedom, for our peace of mind, for our happiness, for a better world. Is it too late to grow a conscience?
Roland Michel Tremblay