conscience created or innate




“Conscience created or innate”

To what extent do you think you are dictated by your surroundings and your up-bringing? Do you claim your opinions to be your own? Do you trust your logic and your conscience? These are questions that are seldom asked by ourselves or by others. In fact, these kinds of questions could almost be considered taboo. It seems to be generally accepted that one can trust oneself, one’s authority, and one’s conscience. Upon these premises we seem to build up everything else. We rely on our beliefs. We trust them and once we decide they are true, we put our energy towards protecting them. We find justification for obeying the things and people we believe in. Whether it be our government, our parents, or any belief we hold dear, we regard our beliefs as sources of truth and direction. They make up a very significant part of what we are.
Perhaps of all of our sources of direction or guidance, our consciences receive the highest regard and trust. In many ways, we attempt to obey our consciences without fail. We hold our consciences to be the absolute truth that acts as a ground for our actions and beliefs. But what is a conscience and where does it come from? Merriam-Webster’s English Dictionary defines conscience as: “consciousness of the moral right or wrong of one’s own acts or motives” (p 171). So, your conscience serves as the part of one’s thoughts that agrees with good and disagrees with bad. It is the mechanism that allows you to know the difference between good and evil. Does this mean that if we are to follow our consciences collectively there will be no problems and no wrong? No, this is definitely not true. There is no absolute right or wrong. One finds this virtually anywhere that one looks. Granted, there appears to be many actions that are universally considered wrong. Stealing, murder, lying, etc. all are generally accepted as wrong, but one can always justify a wrong by finding loopholes in one’s conscience. In times of war, killing is accepted. If it is from the ridiculously rich, stealing is justified. If it is for the better good, lying is accepted as ethical. It is on an individual level, then, that we decide what is justifiable from what is not. Therefore , we all have different consciences and standards to obey. One can certainly obey one’s conscience and still be in the wrong. Our consciences are developed in much the same way that our personalities or belief systems are, they are relative to our environment and experiences. With some explanation, one may come to the knowledge that one can’t trust one’s conscience as a source of absolute moral truth. If one obeys one’s conscience as such, one can’t be sure that his actions are justified. With this knowledge one shouldn’t lose all faith in oneself and others and become entirely skeptical. Rather, I would like to promote a re-questioning, as it were, of some fundamental questions about the beliefs that have become premises on which we operate daily. In doing so, I would hope that we could gain a more objective vantage point that we could use to our advantage. The purpose is not to make paranoid and reluctant to believe, but instead to make note of our natural tendencies of bias.
In “Group Minds,” novelist and essayist Doris Lessing illustrates the “very flattering portrait” with which we have identified ourselves. what she is speaking of is the way in which we view ourselves as individuals with separate thinking minds, dependent from our peers and from authority figures. We seem to think that we stand outside of the group circle and look in. But, as Lessing shows, we are all inevitably part of a group. “and there is nothing wrong with that,” she states “but what is dangerous is. . . not understanding the social rules that govern groups and govern us” (p 4 ). In other words, it is dangerous and a threat to our individuality to be ignorant to the fact that we are dictated in many ways against our will. Our conscience dictates our actions possibly more than any other source. We allow this because we trust