The most rewarding role in my life is that of mother and educator. I have been blest with three children who give my life essence. My daily thoughts are on helping these children become “decent”, well respected and well loved, empathic human beings who have a strong understanding of what is right and wrong.
But to do that is to assume that a person’s values are shared by all and this is not necessarily the case. What I value in life someone else may deflect its relevance in their own lives. And worse still, deflect its value as being important in my life.
The difference to me, as a mother and educator, is not just morality, i.that is right and wrong based on rules or “norms” but awareness of our conscience.
A conscience, is upon personal reflection, morality’s effect on others. An effect or a by-product of our choice of values, norms or rules.
I distinctly remember being taught about my conscience. Phrases such as “using my conscience” is part of my upbringing at home and school. This thinking was impossible unless I was “trained” to think about the effects my moral decisions had on others.
I worry that conscience is being shadowed by morality on its own. It is very easy to discuss “right” vs “wrong” with children, and let’s not be ill informed, many adults could do with a discussion on morality and the conscience. But do we give enough credence to thinking about our conscience. Do we “train” our minds alongside our hearts to think about how our words and actions will effect others especially if they do not share our own value system.
Morality can very easily play kingpin in life but the conscience allows us to steer our moral values so that we are able to look at ourselves in the mirror and live with our decisions, words and actions. The conscience is a reminder that the world does not exist to satisfy our own self or our own needs at the detriment of others. A person could assume their moral understanding because they know right and wrong in their own value system but if it isn’t shared by others we need another factor i.e., the conscience to level out the field.
As a child I was informed about the body, the soul and the mind and thankfully, I had the wisdom of educators who taught me the dimension of the conscience. This allowed me to reverence the idea that I may need to miss out because others’ needs are just as important.
There is an integrity to the value system when the needs of others are served before the needs of one person are catered for. The conscience, as I say to my own children, is your best friend to help you make solid, integral decisions and processes. The conscience, unlike morality alone, emphasises the person’s desire and accountability to do right rather than just the thinking of what is right and wrong.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s used their conscience today at all?”