I talked about a friend man can’t escape while going on life’s journey, the conscience, its linguistic meaning, its definition according to scientists, thinkers and philosophers. Psychologists said that people’s consciences vary in degrees between uprightness and corruption; for instance, the easy or the uneasy, cruel conscience. There is also the individual or personal conscience that controls one’s life and his points of view toward his behaviors, attitudes and relationships. And the social or national conscience that is confirmed through danger and hard times a nation goes through. Individual conscience is often affected by social conscience especially when it comes to customs and traditions. A man may act according to social conscience even if it violates his personal one. For instance, blood feud or revenge customs, people who believe in these customs would consider a person who doesn’t adhere to it to be weak and dishonorable.
Many times people ask if there are seared and dead consciences. Yes, some may have a seared conscience due to the corrupted way of raising them up. For example, children belonging to a family or parents who consider cheating is smartness, stealing is skill, slackness is comfort and hurting other is strength. If they are raised up according to these wrong concepts what you would expect them to do when they grow old. When man’s good principles don’t help him to get his personal interest, he may violate his conscience to achieve his personal interest without considering others. A violated conscience may lead man to kill, steal, cheat, deceive and hurt others’ feelings, while his mind will help him to find all the justifications for his evil deeds. I don’t believe man’s conscience may die. But as I mentioned before, man may be brought up according to many misconceptions that induce him to violate his conscience, hence he will act according to the concepts he learnt, yet this is due the wrong principles he learnt. Man who behaves according to his personal interest violating his conscience will find no rest as they say; there is no happiness that equals the feeling of ease of conscious. Thus, man my escape the bad consequences of violating law, yet he won’t be able to escape the pain of violating his conscience when he gets over his justifications and removes his mask.
Some described the good conscience as man’s best friend. It induces him to follow his good principles. You may think you are exerting great effort to have a good conscience while no one is like you, be sure that you are not alone, many are acting according to their good conscience and know that you are keeping yourself and others’ respect even if they disagree with you .Conscience is the secret to humanity and the great writer, Tawfiq Al Hakeem, once said that It is not the mind that distinguishes a human from an animal, but rather the conscience.
General Bishop& President of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center