April 30     

Today's quotation:

Conscience, as I understand it, is the impulse to do the right thing because it is right, regardless of personal ends, and has nothing to do with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Margaret Collier Graham

Today's Meditation:

I hadn't ever thought of conscience in this way, but it makes sense.  My conscience does tell me what's right, and it bothers me if I do what's wrong.  In almost any given situation, I do know what the right thing to do is, because there's this part of me that simply knows.  When I listen to it, things are fine-- even better than fine sometimes.  When I ignore it, though, I pay for it with regret and misgiving.  My conscience isn't concerned about what's in it for me, and that's wonderful.  It simply wants me to do what is right.

Many of the decisions that I make in life, I make because I honestly don't want to deal with a guilty conscience later.  I don't want to have to live with the knowledge that I did something very wrong even though I knew it was wrong.  I often do things that are wrong, but that's by mistake, so I don't beat myself up over them.  If I know that they're wrong, though, and I do them anyway, then I have serious problems because I've ignored a very important part of who I am.

We really do know when something's wrong, but we often do it anyway because of expediency or profit.  Sometimes we do it with the idea that we'll apologize later, and that allows us to go through with it even though our conscience is telling us that we shouldn't.  And with so many different sources giving us so many different ideas as to what's right and what's wrong, it's more important now than ever to exercise our consciences, learn from them, and follow them.  We know what's right for us, and it may not be the same thing as what's right for someone else.

If we want peace of mind and heart in our lives, we can follow our consciences and not violate their guidance.  In my experience, the days following a major decision for which I used my conscience as a guide are much more peaceful and loving than days following a decision for which I violated my conscience-- in the latter case, I not only know that I did something wrong, but I know that I knew it was wrong before I did it, and that hurts even worse.

Questions to consider:

How does your conscience speak to you?  How do you listen?

Why is it so easy to do things that we know are wrong, especially if we plan to "make up for them" later?

How might we keep our consciences at peace?

For further thought:

A good conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves constant ease and serenity within us, and more than countervails all the calamities and afflictions which can befall us without.

Joseph Addison

more on conscience



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