Your most intimate relationship is with your conscience. It won’t ever go away, even if you leave it huddled in a corner afraid of you and quivering at your ruthlessness. It will not go away.
You can trample on it, ignore it, deny it, but it will not leave. It may become ill, jaded, damaged, but it will not go away – but it can return to health if you change your awareness of it and change the patterns of your life. For some people that can be very difficult, especially older frightened people, especially people in power, especially people who like power.
Consciences whisper. Perhaps below your normal level of hearing, but they whisper, like itches on dry skin, like the scurry of small animal feet in the attic at night. If you’re a real bastard, you won’t even try to hear them. Instead you will make up your own theories of what is good and what is evil in line with what you believe serves you, and perhaps the inner ring of what you consider your “tribe” of people like you. You will literally create a “conscience dummy” and use it as a ventriloquist would to spout your made up beliefs.
We live in an era of ventriloquist “conscience dummies” where we are told we are safest (and still somehow good people) if we split up families and export people from our country where they have been living, contributing, working, adding to the GNP back to nations where they may be killed. We are told that walls are needed to keep out rapists and criminals. We are told the safest we can be is to have our nuclear arsenal ready as our leader taunts a crazy man with a nuclear arsenal.
We are told we are at our greatest when we are racist, engorge the wealthiest among us, strip health care not just for the neediest but nearly all of us, belittle minorities, align education with huge debts, own assault weapons, insult other nations, break treaties, degrade allies – and replace the science, and daily evidence, of disastrous climate change with voluntary ignorance that left unchecked will destroy human life.
Somewhere along the line, too many of us stopped listening to our conscience (and our own brain power) and started listening instead to voices of problematic, at best, government leaders, corporate leaders, media willing to compromise facts, hate groups, social media trolls, even some religious leaders who have limited understanding of “love your neighbor.” It has became natural to be foul-mouthed, disrespectful, and to express hate through social media.
It becomes easy to disrespect others when we do not respect our own conscience. Disrespect then becomes an inclination, a habit, a perspective on life that we claim as “reality,’ while cynicism is thought of as clever though it is only a cover for despair.
A conscience can be a pest. It can lead you to do things you never thought of, to be more bold than you ever imagined, to leap across divides, to reassign how you use your energy, to care less about some things, and a great deal more about others. It can urge you to change the world and keep after you until you do, no matter how small, no matter how large.
First you have to listen.
Then you join with others of conscience.
Then the world starts to make sense again.