I remember one day talking to our priest and I said that I lived by my conscience. And he looked at me and said “no, we can’t do that”. I sat there stunned for a bit and then I asked him why. He said if you had a good formed conscience that it would work but that not everyone had an honest conscience or had a weak one and would give into wrong even though their conscience was making them feel a little guilty.
I sat a long time thinking about that and realized that what he was saying was true. Otherwise, we would not have people who rob, steal, murder, abduct or anything else like that. I used to love the cartoons showing the little angel on the shoulder and the little devil on the other shoulder as the person tries to decide what to do…good fights evil. In reality, we do have those inside of us that help us when it comes to making judgment calls.
It is our conscience that bugs us if we go to do something we know is wrong. But, if we don’t have an honest formed conscience, then I think we can all see how people will make the wrong choices. If our conscience is formed in a way where being dishonest, stealing, taking what is not ours whether it is in thought, word or deed, are seen as being ok…then we will live our lives in a dishonest way and feel like we are ok to do it.
I have a strong belief system on being honest and upfront. I have said many times I live by do not lie to me and do not steal from me whether it is my money, my possessions, my time, my heart, my thoughts..whatever. And that is the creed I live by but I can see what the priest was talking about for many do not. Many have no remorse at doing what is wrong and many will feel a little guilt or remorse but push it aside for the temptation whether it is money or possessions or whatever is too strong a temptation that their character is not honest enough to turn it down.
It makes it all the more important for us to show the younger generations the right thing to do…to instill in them honesty and ethics and good morals. But, it is not just the younger generation. It is everyone we come in contact with. Whether we want to accept it or not, we are ALL examples to someone somewhere. It may be a complete stranger who sees us doing something wrong that gets the impression that this must be ok because you are doing it. There may be another child who sees you do right, who sees you refuse to do what is wrong no matter the temptation and says “Oh I want to be like they are”. We are responsible for our actions but we need to remember that the responsibility carries over into what we encourage others to do and to not do by our own ethics. One can be raised with poor ethics but that is no excuse for keeping them when we become adults.