Parents are mean, and teachers are idiots! There is not a teenager now who has not had both of these thoughts at some point. From the point of view of all teenagers, those things must be true for them at least during the moment when they feel them. Maybe at a different time or under different circumstances, those statements would not be true. But do you think they are listening to their conscience?
How do we know what we are feeling is true or not? A popular saying is, “The wisest person always admits the possibility of being wrong.” That is how they got so wise in the first place. They did not make snap judgments, they took time to contemplate, to investigate, and to feel the truth deep down inside.
No person can exactly tell another person’s intentions. They can only give pointers of how they found this truth and suggest that others try to experience it as well. When adults tell teenagers what to do, that takes away the chance for teenagers to discover this guidance within themselves.
Your Conscience: Your Inner Guidance
Our conscience tells us right from wrong, and helps us act accordingly. However, the conscience is much more than that. Without a conscience guiding people, there would be no one following any rules, no one helping anyone, and no way to live among others.
It important to point out that being self conscience is a type of shyness experienced by being in front of others, but having a conscience is different as that is something that happens inside.
Conscience is not something forced upon a person. It is a common-sense agreement that, when understood, is beneficial for everyone. Conscience is a guide to understanding that what we do to others, we ultimately do to ourselves. It is an inner feeling that manifests itself in outward actions.
There are many teachings that state this obvious fact, such as:
- Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. This is called “The Golden Rule.”
- What goes around, comes back around.
It is a common mistake to believe that a guilty conscience is the only means to curb wrongdoings. Ultimately, the power of the conscience lies in encouraging people to do good. Good deeds are not done just for the sake of others, but because of the inner satisfaction that good deeds bring about oneself.
If a person wants the best in life, the most satisfying experiences and the greatest happiness, all they need to do is to be kind, follow the good guidance from the conscience, and life will be wonderful.
There is no need to take anyone’s word for this or believe anything said about it. Prove this to yourself. Pick up a puppy gently; hold it for a while in a kind way and it kisses you. You have now made “man’s best friend.” Kick the puppy instead, throw stones at it, or harm it and it runs away. If you do such a hurtful thing to an innocent puppy, do not be surprised if at some point in the future you are attacked and harmed by a large vicious dog. It could even be the same puppy that is now grown up. It makes no difference what vicious dog attacks you, because they all came from the same place of harm.
Almost everyone knows it is better to be kind to an animal than to harm one. Unfortunately, a few people lack a conscience or pay little attention to their actions. In extreme cases, these are called “psychopaths.” We see them in the news. They are the mass murderers, the school shooters, the terrorists, the ones who kill people, even ones they do not know. The only way they can do these awful things is the lack of conscience. Even though these types appear in the news frequently, which makes them seem like there are many, there are not so many. They can do a great deal of harm, but the gigantic majority of people are not inherently bad.
If you feel like harming animals or people, there may be nothing that can be said here to change this. There is only the possibility of giving a warning, that no one ultimately gets away with wrongdoing. They all eventually pay for their harm they cause.
If, on the other hand, you feel like it would be wrong to harm an innocent animal, welcome to the full world of kind people who agree with you. You have proven to yourself now that you already have a conscience. From this personal understanding, you are now able to expand this feeling to see everyone you encounter in this same way.
When a person lives a life without harming any others, they are said to have a clear conscience. Some people extend this to include animals, plants, and the environment, which is a more holistic understanding of having a conscience. At the bare minimum, a person of good conscience does not harm other human beings.
The Innocence of Babies
What has a human baby done wrong when it came to the world? It is just as innocent as the puppy. According to the Dana Foundation, when young children are mistreated, abused, abandoned, neglected, they transform. They become harmful to themselves and others, instead of growing up to be kind, compassionate individuals who care for themselves, their friends, and their families.
Doing the right thing should never be forced upon anyone – they will naturally end up reacting rebelliously. Instead, following one’s inner guide, one’s conscience, leads to much better results. When practicing doing good, be patient to see the results. Patience is important, because the results of good deeds are longer lasting and more powerful.
It is possible to kill a person in an instant, but to love, raise, and nurture a child takes a lifetime to see all the results.
Evil Doings and Evil People
Evil and harmful deeds are all done quickly, often without even thinking through what the consequences might be. Evil deeds causes a lot of harm, yet that ultimately dissipates. Reacting to the evil of others is useless, because it would create more evil until it annihilates itself. Eventually someone will stop you if you try to continue the chain of harmful behavior.
The role of your conscience is to help slow or stop you from doing bad things that will eventually bring you direct harm. Your conscience saves you from creating harm for yourself, coming from the mistakes you make. Think of conscience as an imaginary “mental safety belt” whose job it is to keep you from hurting others, being harmed, dying or going to jail.
Conscience vs Conscious
Though very similar, there is a linguistic difference between the two words. Conscience, as we have said, is having some sort of inner guidance to do good things instead of bad things. On the other hand, being conscious is having awareness of our being, or being awake. A person can be conscious of having a conscience. Here is a fun quiz to test to see if you know the difference.
When we go inside to examine our thoughts and feelings, we discover the source of our conscience. In addition, when we have a sudden bad feeling that we know somehow something we are doing is wrong, that feeling is coming from our conscience. In order to be aware of our conscience as we go about our daily lives we need to be awake or conscious. Additionally though, our conscience may subconsciously influence our dreams.
Conscience in Dreams
Unless they are psychopaths, when a person has done something very bad, they know it. Even if the bad things were well hidden, it is not possible to hide the truth of what a person has done from their own selves. This feeling of guilt eats one up because of the awareness of the bad things we do. Sometimes it plays out a drama in the dreams, even to the point of tormenting a person with nightmares about the bad things they have done. In the dream state, the conscience is operating from the subconscious mind, not the conscious mind. Consciousness and having a conscience are intertwined in this way.
Overall, we need to help our young ones understand their conscience by feeling it from the heart. We as parents and teachers need to be compassionate, have empathy for others, and choose to be good because it really feels better. Most of all, remember that you and everyone else you meet was once a pure innocent baby, and this innocence is what we aspire to hold for the rest of our lives.